The appraisal is one of the most critical lynchpins of closing, so it’s no wonder many loan originators have a love/hate relationship with their appraisal desks. The appraisal report is a big risk to closing anyway, and due to recent regulations and investor guidelines, production staff feel they have zero control over one of the most critical components of a deal. But you can still make your originators happy (most of the time) and have high quality, efficient, and compliant appraisal operations.
The appraisal desk can communicate better and deliver better service to production staff automatically with technology, so the LO is satisfied and knows their concerns are taken into consideration. A few large lenders have already changed their appraisal desk models to attract the top producers. The key to doing it successfully is to honor your production staff with the tools they need to be in the loop when it comes to the appraisals on their loans.
As competition for top producers continues to heat up, here are a few of the ways you can improve your appraisal desk:
>> Give them easy, fool-proof appraisal ordering: Make sure your originators have fast, easy appraisal ordering, preferably directly integrated in their LOS or through an easy-to-use portal. The ordering process has to be streamlined to avoid data entry mistakes and confusion that can cause closing delays.
>> Keep them in the loop on status: With a technology framework, you can still isolate appraisers from production staff, while continuing to provide automatic status updates throughout the process. LOs often complain that the appraisal process is like a “black hole”, so periodic updates will alleviate this stress.
>> Give a simple way to request changes: Your LOs should have the ability to ask questions, request revisions, and offer additional information to the appraisal desk. Even if you’re hiding appraiser identity through double-blind ordering mode, communication between loan officers and appraisers is possible with some technology providers.
>> Cause fewer delays and questions: Technology can definitely help when you can automatically pass loan information to the appraiser. Reduce the frustration from going back and forth with the appraiser by getting all the pertinent information the first time, automatically.
>> Have access to performance stats: The appraisal desk should have easy access to vendor performance history and be able to document how orders are assigned. When questions about particular vendors arise, this information can help your LOs understand the appraisal desk’s functions.
>> Have the flexibility to try new vendors and replace old ones: The best LOs out there have relationships with local area expert appraisers. Have a system in place that allows your appraisal desk to onboard new vendors easily and quickly. When you need to replace vendors due to performance, make sure your system makes it easy.
When regulations and investors demanded production be isolated from collateral valuation, some lenders went too far in building a firewall that frustrates their top producers and most valuable salespeople. Through technology, you can get the best of both worlds, with full compliance in your appraisal operations and happy LOs.
About The Author
Jennifer Miller is president of Mercury Network, a web-based software platform used by more than 600 lenders and AMCs to manage compliant collateral valuation workflow. Jennifer can be reached at Jennifer@MercuryVMP.com.