Q: How would you categorize the state of today’s appraisal sector?
Nick Grant: Currently the appraisal sector is extremely busy around the country across all segments within the industry from lending to legal valuations. The good news is that due to the high volume of work, the appraisers are at full employment capacity. This high volume has put stress on the industry due to the shrinking number of available appraisers. More appraisers are leaving the profession than are joining it for several reasons.
The average age of an appraiser, according to several different studies, is in the upper 50’s, meaning that many are approaching retirement or are ramping down the amount of work they are willing to do on a monthly basis. With the favorable interest rates we have been experiencing this year, the lending industry has really been impacted by the fewer number of appraisers, the appraisal delivery time has been extended causing issues with closing escrows on time as well as interest rate locks expiring.
The reasons for the shrinking number of appraisers is that there are many barriers to entry to becoming an appraiser that not many are willing to endure: (1) College degree; (2) Extensive appraisal-related college level coursework; (3) 2,500 required hours of apprenticeship as a trainee appraiser with few money-making opportunities; (4) Lack of appraisers willing to mentor a trainee for that time commitment (1.5 years); and (5) Lack of institutional training centers as in years past with in-house appraisal departments (banks, savings and loans).
The Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) needs to look into the not-too-distant future and strategize about what needs to be done to attract new and younger talent to the industry and amend some of the requirements so that new talent can earn a living while in training. Most lenders will not accept an appraisal that has a trainee appraiser signing the report along with their licensed/certified mentor, another issue which prohibits proper training and experience credit.
Q: In your professional opinion, what are the key elements to successful customer service?
Nick Grant: Establishing realistic expectations. Managing those expectations with efficient follow-up meetings and phone calls. Staying on top of change and being proactive, not reactive.
Q: What should a company in the mortgage industry look for when recruiting candidates for sales positions?
Nick Grant: Consider attributes outside of the industry: Service, ability to accept change, problem solving, ability to think outside of the box. I believe experience is important but I also think we should bring young people into our business and train them. These younger candidates have great IT skills that will serve us well into the future.
Q: What will be you top priorities in your new role at LRES?
Nick Grant: Build a total sales environment that includes all departments. I’m all about team selling. Our service and operations departments’ strength is enabling our sales team to develop realistic expectations. I’ll also incorporate a lender place/REO insurance strategy to bring new business as well as grow our relationship with our existing clients.