Exciting career opportunities are opening up for appraisers as our industry adapts to a shifting business landscape marked by substantial transactions. Notable among them is the First American Mortgage Solutions, LLC, April acquisition of Forsythe Appraisals, LLC. To better understand how this move stands to benefit appraisers, The Buzz staff invited Forsythe Appraisals’ president & CEO, John Forsythe, SRA to give us more details.
Buzz: What was the impetus of this brand union?
John Forsythe, SRA: It provided both of our companies the opportunity to further our business missions while keeping our special cultures intact. Fundamentally, First American Mortgage Solutions and Forsythe Appraisals share complementary traits. We are trusted brands with cultures rooted in our respective core values, and each is dedicated to our employees and delivering superior customer service.
Forsythe Appraisals was founded by my grandfather in 1940 and has devoted a significant part of the last 76 years building the largest independent residential appraisal firm in the country. We accomplished this by focusing on top-shelf customer service in combination with delivering the highest quality appraisal reports in the industry. From day one, we have been committed to the W-2 employee appraiser model, establishing branch offices in metro areas throughout the United States.
Equally committed to its employees, First American was recognized earlier this year by Fortune magazine as one of the 100 best companies to work for in the U.S. First American’s legacy of innovation and leadership dates back all the way to 1889. First American’s Mortgage Solutions group provides lenders and servicers with end-to-end solutions covering the entire life cycle of a residential loan, from origination, through post-closing to servicing, as well as default services.
Buzz: How can appraisal professionals benefit from this move?
John Forsythe, SRA: Our goals are to deliver quality appraisals executed in less time than ever, and to provide a better quality of life for appraisers. We are confident in our commitment to achieve these.
The greatest imperative of our industry is the need to evolve. As a staff appraisal firm, we’ve always kept our employees’ best interests in mind as we worked with them and our customers to develop a best-in-class appraisal model. By joining First American, we now have greater ability to provide significantly more value to our employees and the marketplace.
This brand union creates an unparalleled combination of staffing, data, appraisal production and leading technology. It will enable us to better deliver accountability, flexibility, speed, quality and superior customer service to meet industry demand. This is going to empower our staff appraisers to help shape the future of our industry.
Buzz: What is the benefit to your lender partners?
John Forsythe, SRA: In the short term, our staff appraisers around the country, in concert with First American Mortgage Solutions’ existing valuation capabilities, will offer our customers more extensive valuation options aimed at quality, efficiency and compliance. Together we can offer lenders integrated valuation solutions nationally via software solutions from ACI, another member of the First American family of companies. Moreover, First American also provides fraud detection, loan quality and compliance analytics, all fully supported by the company’s No. 1 industry position in real property data coverage.
Looking ahead, we now have the means to re-engineer the appraisal process to overcome persistent challenges. Appraisers currently have to navigate an extremely complex set of rules and guidelines that is difficult to manage, and the result is a process that many say is responsible for a 50 percent addendum rate. The consistent concerns of our lender and AMC clients are that valuations take too long, there is insufficient data and support, and there are far too many corrections. Add to that a growing anxiety over where the next generation of appraisers will come from.
The addition of assets—including data, technology, systems and relationships—will equip us to address these challenges as part of First American’s ongoing commitment to the Pursuit of Certainty in Lending™.
Buzz: What professional opportunities will this bring to your staff appraisers?
John Forsythe, SRA: We remain absolutely dedicated to advancing our profession, which started with the creation of a staff appraisal model that frees our employees from the headaches associated with being a sole proprietor. By coming to work at Forsythe Appraisals, appraisers can focus exclusively on providing sound, reasoned opinions of value on residential property, instead of being distracted by matters involving IT, regulatory compliance, sales and marketing, accounting and invoicing, hiring and training, taxes, and all of the other things small business owners have to deal with. Under our local branch manager model, appraisers who aspire to become managers have that opportunity and path available. In fact, about 80 percent of our current branch managers started as staff appraisers.
Opportunities for income, benefits, professional growth and advancement went from good to great when we became part of the First American family of companies. Incidentally, in just the short time we’ve been a part of the organization, it’s been very obvious why First American has been recognized as a best company to work for in Fortune and publications across the country.
Buzz: Will your model change as a result of the acquisition?
John Forsythe, SRA: Forsythe Appraisals’ staff model will remain dedicated to serving our loyal lender and AMC clients, while advancing meaningful and rewarding careers for professional appraisers.
Buzz: What does stand to change?
John Forsythe, SRA: Quite frankly, our entire industry. This brand union will result in new approaches to valuations for lenders, along with new direction and career growth for appraisers.
There needs to be greater focus on residential valuation speed, accuracy and accountability, and we need to attract cream-of-the-crop appraisers who are committed to this evolution.
As part of First American, we aim to lead the valuations industry by providing innovative solutions and being an employer of choice. The future is very bright for appraisers who share our passion and understand that market needs are not being met. Forsythe Appraisals’ staff will lead the charge to usher in a new day for our profession and the industry.
Buzz: Thank you for sharing your insight with Appraisal Buzz and our readers. It certainly is an exciting time and we wish you continued success in helping lead progressive change.
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