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Leading AMC Will Make Its Software Available

Appraisal Logistics (ALS), a nationwide appraisal management company announced today that it will license AIMPort, its proprietary technology platform, to lenders who want to manage some or all of their own appraisal process as well as to other appraisal management companies. The software can be used for residential or commercial valuations and BPO transactions. It is already integrated with many LOS, GSE, FHA and other industry applications.


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“Not every lender wants to outsource its appraisal management to an AMC,” said Frank Danna, CEO of Appraisal Logistics. “If they manage it internally, they must have access to software powerful enough to manage that process in a compliant and efficient manner. If they do work with an AMC, they may still want to manage some appraisals or evaluations internally. Most lenders need some support when lending outside of their footprint, but the process has to be very efficient to keep costs low. Finding the right mix is the key to reducing the lender’s overall costs in the appraisal department. Our software makes that easy.”


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AIMPort is a single source solution developed to bring management and operations teams, technical tools and vendor partners together seamlessly. The platform improves workflow efficiency and accuracy in a cost-effective manner to support the lender’s own vendor process. The platform offers functionality for vendor management, order process, assignments, tracking, reviewing, delivery, reporting and accounting. ALS created AIMPort internally using its own in-house IT group. The company has been operating on the platform in all 50 states since 2011. 


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“The possibilities are virtually limitless,” said Dennis Ashcroft, ALS Vice President of Sales. “Whether your interest is to farm out the cost/risk to a third-party vender or manage the process internally through a state-of-the-art technology, we can analyze your existing process and provide a cost-effective solution that meets/exceeds all government and Interagency guidelines. As the only provider with the coveted ISO 9001-2015 Certification, a Quality/Performance Improvement program, your compliance at the end of the day is guaranteed.”


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Appraisal Logistics has received the ISO 9001:2015 Certification for Quality Management Systems Standards by LQRA, a Lloyd’s Register Company. Although not required, Appraisal Logistics opted into the rigorous audit and evaluation process to provide financial institution customers a means of measuring quality. ALS is the only AMC in the industry to receive this important certification.

Pendo Launches Automated USPAP Standard 3 Compliance Tool

Pendo, a nationwide appraisal management company (AMC), has launched an automated USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) Standard 3 compliance tool to add to their list of proprietary technology solutions for appraisal management. The company has also developed an appraiser recruiting tool that helps its dedicated client success team find, track and engage appraisers for traditionally difficult assignments involving unique properties, or properties in high demand or sparsely populated areas.

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USPAP Standard 3 “establishes requirements for development and reporting of an appraisal review assignment involving a real property or personal property appraisal,” according to the Appraisal Institute. Pendo’s proprietary USPAP Standard 3 review tool manages the appraisal review requirements set by each state. It allows the appraiser to look at the original appraisal, along with the review form and supporting market data, all in one view. The tool also tracks the number of appraisals Pendo has completed in each state and notifies Pendo when it is time to complete more reviews to meet the state AMC requirements. Housing the reviews and having access to necessary reporting within the tool satisfies the requirements for each state while automating the process and ensuring each appraisal is compliant.

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Pendo’s quality and compliance efforts center on a configurable proprietary technology that allows each client to customize its quality control process according to its own unique requirements. “If lenders want to achieve the highest quality and compliance, they need to have performance-based metrics to review, analyze and make adjustments as needed,” said Jeff Sandman, co-founder of Pendo. “We give our clients the metrics to make informed decisions, and we’ll be doing a lot more in the future.”

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To lead its quality and compliance efforts, the company recently hired Molly Hoskins, certified appraiser, as vice president of quality and compliance. This position and a continued focus on technology are part of the company’s disruption-based growth plan, which includes using advanced technology and other dedicated resources to elevate quality, compliance and service levels far above current industry standards.

The newly hired Ms. Hoskins will lead the company’s quality and compliance program, which includes growing Pendo’s use of proprietary technologies and metrics that not only assure appraisal quality and compliance, but also elevate client engagement.

An AMC’s Perspective On Declining Numbers Of Appraisers

There is a common misconception that AMCs are unconcerned with the problems affecting appraisers. AMCs should be viewed as business partners for appraisers, offering appraisal assignments and ready to assist the independent appraiser to better understand the regulations and rules that are constraining the business and provide guidance on how to better navigate those challenges. AMCs are a part of the industry as a whole and we believe they share in the responsibility to reverse the declining number of appraisers. AMCs can, and are, taking action to both change restrictive policies and increase the number of licensed appraisers. There will be dramatic consequences for all in the mortgage appraisal industry if the number of appraisers continues to decline at the same rate. Through lobbying, education and policy change, AMCs believe they should help reverse the trend of appraisers leaving the business.

Strain on Appraisers

The decline in appraisers over the last few years has been steep. The average annual rate of decrease is approximately three percent – a cumulative decline of 22 percent since 2007 (Appraisal Institute Research Department). As large of a decline as this is, there is the potential for these numbers to become even more dramatic in the future. More than 62 percent of appraisers are over the age of 51, and only 13 percent are younger than 35. The lack of youth in the profession and the decline in appraisers can both be tied to increased barriers of entry into the profession.

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Currently, certified level appraisers are expected to have a four-year college degree, two additional years of apprenticeship and pass certification requirements. The four-year college degree does not need to be in a field of study relevant to appraising and some suggest a school for appraisers would impart more relevant and valuable skills than an unrelated four-year degree. What’s making the apprenticeship period more difficult is that many lenders refuse to accept appraisals that include the signature of a trainee on the left side, though the supervisory appraiser does take full responsibility by signing on the right side. It’s incredibly difficult to find people to train as potential new appraisers because they’re being asked to work and train for some 2,500 hours without being able to establish their own reputations by signing their own work.

Appraisers are backlogged in work and some try to complete 2-3 appraisals a day, on top of making corrections to any existing appraisals and submitting their work through multiple systems to multiple companies. The workload and demand on their time has risen sharply. Appraisers are under immense pressure to be organized, efficient, adaptable, and accurate despite the increasing workloads. With only 24 hours in each day, those appraisers who fall behind suffer from stress, long hours driving and exhaustion. While many would benefit from an apprentice or trainee appraiser, many appraisers are not sure how to manage that situation to the ultimate benefit of both parties. Many appraisers strive to minimize risk and asking an individual to risk his hard-won reputation and business by using unseasoned appraisers is a risk many are not willing to accept.

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What can AMCs do to provide assistance to bridge this chasm? It’s an issue which needs an immediate solution. Time is not on our side. Given that it takes two to three years to move from trainee status to fully licensed appraiser, the industry requirements have guaranteed there will be no quick relief for several years. While some argue technology is the future, AMCs believe there will always be a need for human appraisers in the real estate business. Technology can change the way appraisers offer services, but can never replace the need for an unbiased, talented and experienced appraiser.

Strain on AMCs

The same strain impacting appraisers is occurring at AMCs. With the decline in overall numbers, there are less qualified appraisers able to take on the burdening expectations. AMCs are forced to search harder for qualified appraisers. The means more time and resources are allocated to dig deeper into databases to find the most qualified appraisers. This forces AMCs to search for appraisers who are further away from the property to be appraised. In some circumstances AMCs may have to search for appraisers outside the county, and even, very rarely, across state lines. While these problems may be less visible in more urban areas where there are still many appraisers to choose from, the shortage is impacting the more rural or isolated areas the hardest.

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Effects on Appraisals

AMCs worry that if the decline in appraisers continues, it will have a negative effect on the quality of appraisals. AMCs strive to find the most qualified and informed appraisers to make decisions on properties. The further away from the subject property an appraiser is, the larger the possibility for potential error based on lack of geographic competency. Although many AMCs currently have large vendor networks and are currently able to find the most qualified leads, in time, with fewer appraisers offering services, it will potentially affect the accuracy, turn time and quality of the appraisal market as a whole.

Another substantial goal AMCs have is to protect the value of appraisals over cheaper alternative valuation products such as AVMs. The time needed to complete an appraisal would increase with the continued decline in the number appraisers. This increasing wait could come with mounting pressure for appraisals to be substituted by other valuations products which do not have the insight, accuracy or accountability of an appraisal. In this area, AMCs can help ensure the value of the appraisal product while fighting for more appraiser friendly regulations and policies. Ultimately AMCs need to work with appraisers to change the overly restrictive regulations surrounding the sector.

Potential Solutions

The current environment needs to change to better protect the appraisers at the center of the industry. In order to reach solutions it is up to the mortgage industry to increase its voice to influence policies. AMCs are taking action to change the current environment. Many AMCs are joining the Real Estate Valuation Advocacy Association (REVAA) who lobby for positive change for the industry. REVAA and other non-profit trade associations monitor public policy and serve as an important resource to federal and state regulators and policymakers. They work on creating solutions with policy makers about the attrition of appraisers and ensure the movement to halt the decline is a top agenda item.

There are many innovative ideas on how AMCs can help combat the decline in the number of appraisers if policies were changed. This includes AMCs starting their own training programs, but these ideas are often limited by existing rules and regulations. As long as AMCs’ ability to affect change is limited by government regulations and existing lender policies it is harder to address the root causes of the lack of appraisers. Outside the policy sphere, more information needs to be published for potential recruits on the benefits of working as an appraiser. The ability of appraisers to work their own schedule, own their own shops and the flexibility of working for themselves are major draws for younger people interested in the profession. More potential recruits need to know that an appraisal career can offer security, stability and has the potential to be lucrative if well-established.

The final way AMCs can help reverse the decline of appraisers is to take responsibility over their operations and relationships. AMCs need to do more to directly help the profession become stronger and better. AMCs need to treat their appraisers right; with respect, reasonable turn times, and fair and adequate compensation. AMCs must be held accountable for their part of the relationship. The healthier a relationship that can be formed between AMCs and appraisers, the more attractive it will be for future appraisers to join the field. Simply by acknowledging and guaranteeing that AMC s value the work of appraisers, AMCs can help attract more people to the field.

From Discussion to Action

AMCs are very aware of the decline in the number of appraisers, and have been feeling the same strain that appraisers are all too familiar with. AMCs are having the hard discussions of what can be done to support the appraisal profession and are working towards finding solutions to reverse the decline in the number of appraisers. While the lack of appraisers is fundamentally affecting the length of time to acquire and fund financing in several states, if the current rate of decline continues, there will potentially be very big problems soon. While there are still many discussions to be had on how to fix the problem, AMCs and appraisers must work together to correct current trends before it’s too late.

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AMC Gets Approval From Homeward Residential

Nationwide appraisal management company (AMC) U.S. Real Estate Services, Inc. (USRES) has been named an approved AMC for Homeward Residential, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Ocwen Financial Corporation.

Known for its 24 years of experience in the default industry, USRES has established itself as one of the leading firms offering Origination Valuations, Broker Price Opinions and Appraisal Services. Recently, the company’s steadfast commitment to the industry has resulted in a doubling of its client base for origination services over the last 12 months.

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“USRES’ longevity has allowed us to bring our core competencies and emphasis on service, quality, and speed to the origination industry,” said Keith Guenther, CEO of USRES and subsidiary RES.NET. “The considerable growth we have experienced in the last year is a testament to our focus on providing exemplary service, combined with leading technology. We look forward to now counting Homeward Residential among our family of clients, and anticipate a strong future ahead for USRES as an AMC with the capacity to service origination segments.”

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USRES maintains its own in-house staff of licensed appraisers, who audit every order to ensure consistency and accuracy. Its origination and default appraisal services are supported by a nationwide network of licensed appraisers. The expertise of experienced professionals, used in concert with USRES’ proprietary software, RES.NET, generates superior results while enabling its clients to continually adapt to both internal business needs and regulatory changes.

“We have decided to add USRES as a partner for AMC services,” said Erik Ferguson, senior vice president of Operations for Homeward Residential. “Our review of the company’s record satisfied us that this vendor will be able to meet and exceed performance standards, thus benefiting our customers. We also highly value the access we have to its staff and management team.”

What Does It Take To Be A Licensed Appraiser?

I am extremely privileged to be part of two professions. As a true aviator for the past 25 years, I first took flight at 16. While I love to fly, I decided to pursue a second wonderful and fulfilling career as a Certified Residential Appraiser almost 13 years ago. I am currently a Lead Quality Control Review Appraiser with AXIS Appraisal Management Solutions and the Chair of the USGBC, United States Residential Green Building Committee.

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Both of my industries, aviation and residential property appraisal, have expressly stated their eligibility requirements for professionals to pursue each career. Allow me to provide you a critical assessment as to the differences and challenges of being a Certified Residential Appraiser compared to becoming a Commercial Airline Pilot. This comparison chart lays out the main requirements of each profession:

TME616-Your Voice Chart

For appraisers, the set of application procedures provide applicants quite a tedious challenge. Bearing in mind that a Certified Residential Appraiser’s work is to mainly perform residential real property appraisals, the requirements seem to be disproportionate when compared to obtaining an Airline Transport Pilots License (ATPL).

It is crucial to note that there is a great disparity in terms of the requirements in the application for an ATPL considering the fact that every pilot is burdened with a vital responsibility not only in keeping the aircraft in good condition; but more importantly, in ensuring the safety and security of the passengers of the aircraft.

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Having been exposed both in the field of commercial aviation and residential appraising, as a pilot who has been in command of a 100 million dollar aircraft with 180+ souls on board and as a current certified residential appraiser who can perform a valuation on a property that can be as low as $5000, the disparity between the eligibility requirements seems to be excessive.

While I am fully aware of the duties and responsibilities of a Certified Residential Appraiser, I highly regard that the application procedure and eligibility requirements that are being set are excessive. To this effect, excessive regulation on their qualification criteria, it is claimed, limits the ability of the appraisal industry to hire and entice competent individuals as they are easily discouraged by the requirements.

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Managing Your AMCs With Compliance

With the latest appraisal regulations and investor requirements, many lenders are outsourcing appraisal operations to appraisal management companies. Using an AMC doesn’t absolve the lender from liability, so it’s important to conduct due diligence on AMCs as well as all your service providers.

To comply with AIR, the CFPB, OCC requirements and others, you need to consider a few critical factors:

>> Your service provider is subject to the same CFPB supervision you are. Make sure they are prepared for those exams and have experience answering the tough due diligence questions.

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>> The OCC mandates ongoing, consistent monitoring of all activities and performance throughout the life cycle of your relationship with the third party. Verify you have a way to compare your vendors and a system for reporting performance in case of an exam.

>> Make sure your vendors are protecting borrower data. The OCC specifies it’s your responsibility to ensure your vendors are complying with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act for consumer privacy. This is of particular importance when it comes to appraisal operations, since protected information is often shared.

When working with AMCs, it’s a good idea to deploy one technology platform to connect to all of them. In that scenario, you can easily enforce your compliance policies across all your vendor channels.

A single technology platform will also eliminate unnecessary due diligence burdens you would otherwise have to meet with each individual vendor. Make sure your platform enforces your requirements, and you’ll kill several birds with one stone.

One of the often overlooked requirements of the OCC is that you should be able to easily onboard new vendors for critical processes and business continuity, should the need arise. A single technology platform allows you to compare vendor performance, connect to new vendors when you need them, and make adjustments to your strategy quickly when necessary.

It’s also important to make things as easy for production as possible so they can remain focused on new business. If you’re using multiple AMCs, it will cause confusion for originators if they need to log in and order appraisals from various AMC websites. When should they order from this company, and when should they order from that company? Are you asking them to track multiple logins and systems? A single platform gives your staff an easy-to-remember workflow that reduces mistakes and frustration. Your appraisal desk can still assign orders to the vendors they choose, while production focuses on originations rather than appraisals.

At Mercury Network, there are more than 130 AMCs already integrated and ready to accept your appraisal orders. You can deploy your own branded appraisal ordering site for your loan originators, or they can order directly from their loan origination software (LOS). You won’t have to waste time with status questions or chasing vendors with questions since order status is updated live and shared with any party you wish. Compliance concerns aside, that streamlined communication loop can save everyone valuable time.

More than 700 lenders and AMCs use Mercury Network, so we hear the latest best practices around third party due diligence and oversight. If you have feedback or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at info@MercuryVMP.com. Even if you don’t use Mercury Network, we can help you with ideas and suggestions to improve your operations and compliance standards.

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Success Stories Do Exist These Days

It may be hard to believe, but success stories do exist these days. For example, LRES, a national provider of commercial and residential valuations and asset management for the mortgage, banking, credit union and real estate industries, has experienced 58 percent revenue growth throughout 2015 and is projected to achieve a 19 percent growth rate in 2016 due to its diverse end-to-end service offerings and expanded client base.

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The increased performance was partially attributed to its additional service offerings with the launch of its homeowners’ association (HOA) services to aid originators, servicers and investors in dealing with potential risks associated with HOA defaults and liens. And through its strategic partnership with OSC, a lender-placed insurance, tracking and compliance services provider, LRES now helps manage the collateral insurance requirements of its customers’ portfolios.

Another factor that greatly contributed to LRES’ strong year was its recent acquisition and smooth integration with formerly Tulsa, Okla.-based Lenders Choice, a residential real estate appraisal management company that specializes in residential appraisals. LRES continues seeking additional strategic acquisition targets to strengthen and diversify its offerings.

In addition to expanding through acquisition, LRES expanded its management team by adding several key associates to its executive team, including a new CTO, three vice presidents of sales, a vice president of finance/controller and a client relations manager.

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On the technology front, LRES is now fully integrated with Platinum Data Solutions RealView and Mercury Network using LRES DirectConnect™, an integration framework that enables third-party systems to integrate seamlessly into the LRES LINK™ order management platform to optimize and accelerate the appraisal order processing. It also upgraded its client-vendor portals for correspondent lenders and associated financial institutions to improve user experience and serve a broader base of loan officers.

“Through LRES’ additional diverse service offerings, experienced executive team, increased technology enhancements, improved internal processes and a successful acquisition, we experienced a year of dramatic growth in 2015 and project continued growth through 2016,” said Roger Beane, CEO of LRES.

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Outsourcing Appraisals To AMCs?

With regulatory concerns and overworked operations staff, more lenders may consider outsourcing appraisal operations to an appraisal management company (AMC).

If you’re thinking about outsourcing to AMCs, it’s important to consider how you will manage those relationships. Be sure you’re familiar with the new third-party oversight requirements so you can properly vet your AMC vendors and comply with the CFPB, OCC, FDIC, and investor mandates. We’ve found the mandates aren’t just extra layers of regulation, but should also be considered best practices that will help you protect your revenue and deliver excellent service to borrowers.

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In the regulations, there are a few issues that aren’t as widely known as others, so I wanted to share some highlights here:

>>The CFPB says the lending institution is not absolved from responsibility of the third party’s compliance and the third parties (in this case, AMCs) are subject to the same CFPB supervision as the lending institution.

>>The OCC mandates due diligence in selecting third parties and requires ongoing, consistent monitoring of activities and performance throughout the relationship life cycle. In addition, the same bulletin specifies responsibility for compliance with regulations, including provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act for consumer privacy.

>>Investors also have requirements for third party oversight. Fannie Mae requires implementation of a pre-funding appraisal quality control process and outlines the expectations for third party appraisal service providers.

>>Since you’re ultimately on the hook for what your AMCs do, oversight is critical. It’s required for compliance, but it will help you select and maintain relationships with the AMCs that are best for your business.

When you’re ready to outsource to AMCs, you can select a single technology platform that’s connected to several AMCs to significantly streamline your due diligence burden. Otherwise, you will have to conduct technology audits on individual AMCs, not to mention your operations staff or originators will be using different ordering portals for each vendor they engage.

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Without a single technology platform to manage all your AMC partners, it will also be more challenging to compare vendor performance, and add or remove vendors when your business needs change. It’s much easier to compare and report on vendor performance if you are tracking everything in one technology system.

When you’re ready to start selecting the AMCs you want to use, visit www.MercuryVMP.com/TPO to download a due diligence white paper with comprehensive recommendations for vetting your partners. More than 600 lenders and AMCs rely on Mercury Network to power their appraisal operations, so we have extensive experience in due diligence audits and are happy to help. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out anytime.

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AMC Preps For Future Growth

Valuation Partners, a national appraisal management company with access to over 10,000 independent fee appraisers in all 50 states, has hired two veteran mortgage industry executives to help prepare for the company’s future growth. Jim Davis will be responsible for overseeing the accounts of all servicing clients in the new position of Managing Director – Loan Servicing. David Raskin becomes Valuation Partners’ Chief Valuation Officer, responsible for overseeing all valuation decisions provided through the company’s products and services.

Jim Davis has over 25 years of mortgage industry experience and has worked for lenders with staffs up to 1,000 in size and portfolios of more than 2 million loans. He has particular expertise in government affairs, default administration and business management for prime and sub-prime portfolios. Most recently he served as vice chairman of Stewart Lending Services, where he led the company’s acquisitions efforts and all government affairs interactions. He also served as an executive vice president of government affairs for American Home Mortgage Servicing/Homeward Residential. Davis has held executive roles at HomeSide Lending, Nationsbanc Mortgage Corporation, Citicorp Mortgage Inc. and Option One Mortgage.

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A certified residential appraiser in California and Arizona, Dave Raskin has over 30 years of valuation industry experience with specific expertise in product management, quality assurance, and process improvement. Raskin has managed daily operations of several large appraisal firms, where he has successfully reduced turn times while improving margins and customer satisfaction. Most recently he worked at Interthinx/First American, where he oversaw product planning for all valuation solutions, automated and human driven, and has held senior roles at Zaio, First American and Strategic Mortgage Services. Raskin also served as the chief appraiser for Kirchmeyer & Associates, a nationwide appraisal company.

“We are delighted to welcome Jim and Dave, who bring decades of experience in their individual fields to our team,” said Bill Fall, CEO of Valuation Partners. “Both gentlemen are well-known, highly respected executives who have performed at a high level for national providers of valuation products and services. Their addition will build upon our reputation as a trusted valuation provider and help us expand our presence in the loan servicing and origination space.”

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Valuation Partners provides nationwide coverage for quality appraisals through its network of geographically competent professionals. As a third-party intermediary, the company keeps originators informed while protecting the integrity of the process and assuring regulatory compliance. Every appraisal is backed by a dedicated account team available six days a week, Monday through Saturday.

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LRES Hires A CTO

LRES, a nation REO and appraisal management company offering property valuations, asset management, HOA and technology solutions for the mortgage industry, has hired Mike Rasooli as its chief technology officer (CTO).

In this role, Rasooli manages LRES’ technical priorities and operational vision; drives growth by delivering applications, tools and services; and leads all aspects of the company’s strategic and tactical technological development.

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Rasooli has more than 27 years of experience in management, software development and IT experience with an extensive background in enterprise and database management systems, B2C and B2B E-commerce, customer relationship management, document management and mortgage technologies. Prior to joining LRES, Rasooli has served as the chief technology officer for Edge Mortgage Advisory Company and PowerSoft 360. He has also served as CEO/CTO at LogixInfo. Prior to that he has also served as a director of Project Management at Pathways, a senior software engineer at Corbis Images and Timeline and senior project manager at Microsoft.

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“Mike is no stranger to technological innovation, and we welcome his specialized expertise to add further enhancements and value to our proprietary appraisal order management technology platform, LRES DirectConnect™, and our vendor portal, as well as provide guidance and strategic direction toward future technological developments,” said Roger Beane, CEO of LRES.

Rasooli also holds a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Darmstadt in Germany.