Over the past ten years, regulations and industry fragmentation have upended the appraisal process. The appraisal is often considered an art that demands meticulous care and patience, yet despite this, appraisers today feel increasingly pressured by lenders and AMCs to complete appraisals in shorter time frames while simultaneously maintaining a high quality of work. These heightened expectations are coming at a time when appraisers are watching their fees decrease and costs increase.
So, how are appraisers supposed to meet the rigorous demands that are set out for them? Unfortunately there are some unsavory options. For example, many appraisers could accept appraisals orders at lower fees or take on less work in order to meet deadlines. However, these options leave appraisers with the short end of the stick, struggling to stay afloat in this rapidly moving market.
Instead, appraisers may consider turning to automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and other advanced technologies in an effort to modernize their business. Industries, old and new, across the country are looking for innovative ways to optimize workflows and discover ways to become more efficient. Even within the non-bank mortgage market, large lenders are leading this charge. In order to create more time to focus on the appraisal itself, appraisers must also overhaul old systems and process flows and discover new, tech-based solutions to industry challenges.
There are three areas, in particular, where appraisers can seek out AI or automated solutions. The first is in managing company operations and administration. Appraisal companies today often use email or telephone as the primary method of communicating with staff or assigning orders. All-in-one management platforms can allow admins and owners alike to oversee company operations, seamlessly communicate with staff, view company statistics, and standardize the appraisal workflow.
The second area is in streamlining manual processes during the appraisal itself, such as inspection scheduling, and completion of the appraisal reports. There are new tools that allow the broker, buyer, and appraiser to use scheduling applications in order to determine a convenient time for the appraisal instead of playing phone tag for sometimes days at a time. Similarly, form software is being released with auto-fill capacities which significantly reduce manual entry.
The third main area where there is room for automated assistance is in regard to the quality assurance and final review of the appraisal report. Appraisers should explore newer form softwares that automatically check appraisal rules in an effort to cut down on revision requests and ensure a high quality of appraisal.
AI and automation can play a constructive role in helping appraisers make their processes more efficient and, as a result, not have to compromise on quality or fees. There is a way for appraisers to adapt to changing times through more efficient workflows and embracing new technologies.
A major issue, however, is that until recently technological options available to appraisers today have often been outdated or prohibitively expensive. The age-old and entrenched technology players in this space are often more focused on profit than actually empowering appraisers, and this has led to increased costs and poor technology. In this system everyone, including lenders and buyers, lose.
New AI and automation technology companies are now finally emerging in the field. But it’s important that appraisers are not wary of these terms that once seemed daunting and counter-productive to the industry. Instead, appraisers should embrace these new developments.
Technology is not a singular solution to all of the issues facing the appraisal industry. There must also be systemic change in how the industry is regulated and the expectations that are laid out for appraisers. However, in the short term, embracing automation in operational workflows, will give appraisers a chance to re-focus on the appraisal itself rather than on the tedious aspects that frustrate the appraiser and complicate the appraisal process.
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