By Michael Detwiler
(This is the first column in a monthly series covering the business strategy of Class Valuation from the point of view of the chief executive officer, Michael Detwiler. He is the former managing director of Accenture and the founder of Mortgage Cadence.)
I believe that being a leader involves solving problems by making things better, and I was never satisfied with just running a business that operated firmly within the status quo. We didn’t run Mortgage Cadence that way, and it’s not how we led our teams at Accenture. So when I participated in the acquisition of Class Appraisal, now Class Valuation, I came into it with the same mindset.
Naturally, that begs the question: “what problems should an appraisal management company be solving now?” What should we be doing better for our lender customers and the mortgage ecosystems we both serve? I have some thoughts on that.
I find four problem areas we need to address now.
When we fix these problems, it could potentially change the way real-estate collateral risk is evaluated for home finance and how borrowers perceive the mortgage loan origination process.
Most industry executives do not consider speed a problem when it comes to valuation, but it is if we move so quickly that it compromises our ability to generate an accurate statement of value for a piece of real estate. It certainly is a problem if--in our pursuit of efficiency--we ignore the customer’s experience.
We need to re-evaluate what we consider a fast appraisal process. Does that mean instantaneous? Does it mean we can’t take time to send out a professional appraiser or inspector? Where does the homeowner’s schedule come into play? Efficiency is critical. Speed for its own sake may not be.
Recent problems in states with fast-growing populations clearly demonstrated that having access to a national panel of professional fee appraisals does not, in and of itself, guarantee that the business will scale.
We need to redefine national coverage in light of better data and analytics. The business will surge again. When that happens, we need to be able to handle it more efficiently than AMCs did in the past.
- Customer Experience
The industry is learning how to treat its client’s client (the borrower) like an important part of the home loan origination process. Borrower satisfaction is on the rise, and that’s good news for all of us. But what about the seller’s satisfaction? This party isn’t even the customer of our lender customer.
And yet, every consumer our industry touches, deserves the same high level of customer experience. If we don’t all think so, our federal regulators certainly do. What can the AMC and the professional appraisers in the field do to ensure everyone in the value chain is delighted by the process? A lot, actually.
- A focus on data
Our business is based on the opinions of professional appraisers, but whether we like it or not it’s starting to look more like a big data application to some stakeholders. With form redesigns in the works that will capture even more property data, AMCs and appraisers in the field will be responsible for collecting this information, and in order to serve our lender clients, we will be bound to do so.
Will the valuation space favor the supercomputer? I have a lot of ideas about that.
In the future, I’ll use this space to go into detail about how we will approach some of these problems and explain why the closer we get to solutions for each of them, the more they begin to look like opportunities for all of us.