Pendo Joins Forces With The Mortgage Collaborative To Offer Appraisal Management Services

Pendo, a nationwide appraisal management company (AMC), announced a strategic partnership with The Mortgage Collaborative’s preferred partner network to provide appraisal management services to the organization’s 112 lender members.

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“We are thrilled to be aligned with such a great network. Our partnership with The Mortgage Collaborative allows us to make it easier for their members to experience the financial benefits that come from Pendo’s unprecedented service levels,” said Jeff Sandman, co-founder of Pendo. “We realize that appraisal turn times are a top concern for lenders because of the direct impact on their bottom lines. Our sense of urgency, personalized service approach and focus on delivering quality reports will put their members at ease.”

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The Mortgage Collaborative is an independent mortgage cooperative of small, mid-sized and community-based lenders that provides its members with access to products and services that help reduce costs, improve compliance and better manage their businesses. Its preferred partner network consists of product and service providers across the mortgage origination ecosystem.
Pendo, which has been the recipient of numerous industry awards in the past several months, differentiates itself through its renowned client and vendor relations programs, proprietary operational processes and its monthly client scorecard, a performance based report that rates the AMC’s monthly activity according to factors such as turn times, returned appraisals and quality.

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“Pendo is a great addition to our network. Their industry reputation and core values align with our guiding principles of offering best-in-class products and services to our members,” said Rich Swerbinsky, EVP of National Sales & Strategic Alliances for The Mortgage Collaborative.

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Simplifying Appraisal Ordering And Management

With a mortgage process that is becoming more complex by the day, lenders need to simplify and streamline. A good example is the appraisal process. These days lenders need the ability to simplify and enrich their valuation review process while enhancing their vendor management capabilities. Here’s one idea:

Veros has enhanced its Sapphire application to help lenders manage their appraisals. Sapphire is a SaaS-based property valuation management platform that allows for quick adoption into the loan processing workflow, with flexibility that enables configuration to specific and unique operational needs. With modules including Order, Review, Reporting and Appraiser Panel Management (APM), Sapphire’s latest enhancements correlate with Veros’ objective of continual product strengthening.

Highlights include:

Enhanced Payment Processing: Sapphire offers users increased flexibility in managing the payment requirements associated with the ordering of appraisals, broker price opinions or other valuation tools. Continuing to deliver a secure portal for sensitive financial data, Sapphire’s enhanced payment processing capabilities provides versatility in how system and service fees are routed, as well as in the management of direct payments to appraisers or other valuation vendors.

Ordering By Zone: In tune with the evolution of appraisal ordering for territories more specifically defined than ZIP codes and counties, Sapphire allows users to establish ordering rules for valuation providers based upon configurable ‘zones’. From geographic areas down to specific neighborhoods, Sapphire enables users to select the optimum vendor (appraiser, AMC, broker or other) based upon expertise to a highly specialized location.

Unified Supporting Data: Eliminating the necessity of searching multiple external data sources to verify the contents of appraisal reports, Sapphire displays public records data related to the subject property and displays it when an appraisal is being reviewed within the system’s interface. Enhancing reviewer efficiency and standardizing data sources, Sapphire users can now instantly see relevant data culled from reliable sources. Additionally, Sapphire will filter the available data and display them on maps that can be toggled between street and satellite views. Through this functionality, reviewers can also adjust the parameters for comparable data and instantly review new properties in order to better validate the data contained within the valuation, determine next steps and reduce possible risk.

“Sapphire was designed to enable conscientious institutions to stay compliant with ever-evolving regulations and requirements in an intuitive and user-friendly interface for property valuation management,” said David Rasmussen, senior vice president of operations for Veros. “These enhancements are another step down that road as we continually augment our SaaS-based valuation tools.”

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The Power Of Green

One of the brightest guys in today’s mortgage industry is Brian Coester, the CEO of Rockville, Md.-based Coester Valuation Management Services. In a recent blog posted at his website, he saw the future of housing with a greater focus on energy efficiency.

“I’ve anticipated this for years and the time has finally come,” Brian wrote. “Energy efficient improvements such as solar panels and tankless water heaters will begin adding notable value to homes. In states like Texas, Colorado and Arizona, homes with energy efficient items sell at a 10-20% premium when compared to traditional homes in a similar market. I believe this trend will spread steadily to other over the next few years. If you remain skeptical about the return on large scale energy efficiency projects, even more minor upgrades, including ENERGY STAR appliances, LED bulbs, programmable thermostats and weather stripping have begun receiving consideration in market valuation.”

I freely admit that I have always been concerned about how Washington has spent billions in federal funding to push utility-scale green energy, with dismal results – solar energy, for example, only generates less than one-half of one percent of the total U.S. energy power, despite the endless supply of taxpayer money spent to encourage its development and installation. But it is difficult not to acknowledge that the so-called “cleantech” solutions have a greater appeal on a much smaller scale. Indeed, much of the appeal of the tiny house movement is being able to live completely off the grid by using renewable energy solutions to power, heat and cool a smaller-than-normal residence.

In too much of the residential real estate world, however, there appears to be an aversion to green housing. There is a product called the energy-efficient mortgage that has been around for many years, but it barely makes up less than one percent of the total mortgage product marketplace. This is partly because borrowers need to have reports prepared by an energy consultant using a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) before approval is given on financing. Not surprisingly, the appeal of extra paperwork has proved highly resistible to many originators, who either do not offer these loans or fail to advertise them.

Several federal and state government agencies also have these mortgages, but they are equally silent when it comes to promoting them. Even the White House, which set parallel goals of preserving housing and encouraging energy independence as being primary among its domestic priorities, has curiously failed to use energy-efficient mortgages as a means of achieving these twin goals.

But you don’t need really need Washington to make the world a greener place. In the commercial real estate sector, the push to encourage green building practices has become one of the most exciting things to occur in property development and management – and this is made all the more enjoyable because it is entirely driven by the commercial real estate world itself, without any government oversight or tax money being used to arm-twist the sector into going green.

Some entities in the residential lending sector have already seen the green light. The Appraisal Institute recently published “Residential Green Valuation Tools,” which offers an overview of the valuation of high-performance homes, a growing market. Earlier in the year, the Appraisal Institute and the Institute for Market Transformation issued guidance on valuing green and energy-efficient buildings – a much-needed development, considering the previous lack of standards on this subject.

And as Brian Coester pointed out earlier, energy efficiency is a great selling point in today’s housing market. Hey, if a house can sell at a 10% to 20% premium against neighboring properties due to energy efficiency treatments, that seems like a great argument for going green.

At a time when the industry is still jittery over the prospects of a slowdown (or worse) in housing, this is an option that needs to be pursued. I would call on the Mortgage Bankers Association and other trade groups to start putting more emphasis on this topic, both in their publications and at their conferences. And I would love to see more industry leaders follow Brian Coester’s lead and talk up the green aspects of housing. In the long run, this will be a win-win situation for the industry and, I suspect, the wider economy.

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It Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated!

The recent mortgage and housing crisis was in large measure a result of functional breakdowns of the two most important components of our housing finance system: qualification and valuation. For this reason, reforms have focused on these two components and have resulted in significant regulatory changes. Regulation of the appraisal process has been completely overhauled. Appraisal management software can be a major help or hindrance to lenders facing this new regulatory environment.

Among the key areas of focus within already enacted regulations, and within proposed changes still to be finalized, is creation of a comprehensive data record for each appraisal transaction. Every aspect of the transaction, from ordering, to appraiser selection, to appraisal performance, to communication among parties involved is subject to audit and review.

The question for each lender then becomes: Is your appraisal management process up to meeting the higher standards and providing protection from these new risks?

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a method of software distribution in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over a private network or the Internet. Today many applications used by businesses and other organizations, except custom applications that provide unique competitive advantages, are being delivered as web-hosted services via a browser. Within the mortgage industry, SaaS is a very hot topic. SaaS has emerged as a replacement to older systems throughout the mortgage production-chain from Customer Relationship Management (CRM), to Loan Origination Systems (LOS), to appraisal management, to document preparation, to compliance and beyond. Why?

SaaS Advantage 1—Save Money and Shorten Implementation

SaaS applications are offered on a pay-as-you-go, subscription basis. This enables you to avoid the expenses associated with implementing traditional software. There is no need to buy hardware, software, facilities to house them, or to hire people to manage it all. Industry consultants estimate that the cost of implementing traditional enterprise software is four to five times the initial licensing cost.

Many implementation tasks associated with older systems are eliminated because the SaaS is already up and running at the vendor’s data center. This results in a shortened deployment time and a quicker achievement of positive ROI.

Key Takeaway: SaaS Appraisal management software provides cost savings and quicker productivity gains than the older systems or manual processes.

SaaS Advantage 2-Superior Data Management

The architecture of SaaS systems enables levels of customization, feature enhancement, patch deployment and external data interfacing that is vastly superior to older systems or locally installed software. Such capabilities greatly enhance the flexibility, and responsiveness of the system, while also offering superior data integrity, reporting abilities (providing operational visibility), record management and an overall risk reduction.

Key Takeaway: SaaS appraisal management software can easily be customized for a lender’s specific operational needs. Moreover, comprehensive reporting capabilities allow use of pre-set or completely custom designs in real-time without the need for re-programming, thereby dramatically improving responsiveness.

SaaS Advantage 3-Focus Technology Efforts on Competitive Advantages

The business processes within the mortgage industry must produce products that are largely identical to one another, regardless of which industry participants are involved. Consequently, it makes sense to utilize highly specialized, reliable and secure SaaS systems to ensure uniformity and compliance within origination (CRM, LOS, appraisal management, document preparation and compliance), closing, loan sales, securitization and servicing processes. Through the cost-effective use of SaaS software, a mortgage lender can reallocate from its technology budget to focus on those activities that provide unique competitive advantages.

Key Takeaway: SaaS appraisal management software can improve efficiency, effectiveness and compliance, while helping to return management attention to other activities that may yield better competitive advantage.

The adoption of SaaS appraisal management software is increasing at a rapid pace.  Lenders of all types are making the change to ensure that their appraisal processes are managed both to eliminate risk and to provide positive operational benefits. These benefits include cost savings, ease of implementation, productivity gains, appraisal operations visibility, customization and reduced oversight.

Is your appraisal management process up to the task?

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