George Opelka, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for ACI, a First American Company, was announced as the Valuation Visionary 2016. This award was established by the Collateral Risk Network in 2011, and nominates the person who exemplifies integrity, dedication and exemplary service to the collateral valuation profession. The Buzz staff reached out to George for his take on some upcoming changes in the appraisal industry.
Buzz: George, as Valuation Visionary, what do you see as catalysts for industry change in the coming months?
Opelka: The appraisal industry at large is beginning to recognize the operational value of cloud-based solutions, which provide greater flexibility, efficiency and security than desktop alternatives. The cloud also supports collaboration, instant software updates and streamlined backup and recovery in ways desktop software just can’t deliver. With so many processes already in the cloud, including order acceptance, appraisal messaging, MLS data, map services and report delivery, it’s only logical for appraisal to move towards an end-to-end, cloud-based solution. I expect an increase in the adoption of cloud-based order management platforms by appraisers in 2017, which will be a major catalyst for change in our industry.
As I listen to lenders, underwriters, appraisers and investors, it’s clear the industry is searching for new ways to meet demand. There continues to be significant industry chatter concerning the requirements needed to become an appraiser, and that appears to be gaining traction. Lenders and investors want a more streamlined valuation process that provides a solid valuation and incorporates the use of big data.
Appraisers who embrace new ways of providing service will find an environment to grow and prosper by aligning with the right clients, employers, and solution providers.
Buzz: How can appraisers best prepare for the many changes coming their way?
Opelka: Listening and communicating will be critical in responding to appraisal changes and their ripple effects with speed and effectiveness. Appraisers need to keep up with the latest changes, speak with clients often and proactively ask about top client concerns. They should also take every opportunity to share knowledge and ideas with vendors and peers. For example, ACI stays informed by attending appraiser meetings and events, and we play an active role in educating our niche community by publishing informative blog posts on compliance issues, as well as hosting free product training webinars. Appraisers who embrace change, surround themselves with positive, motivated, professional peers and clients stand to prosper.
Buzz: Regardless of the regulatory environment, appraisers are always interested in how to be more efficient, improve their skills and earn new clients. Break that down for us. How can appraisers best position themselves for the future?
Opelka: You can’t expect innovative ideas and cream-of-the-crop clients to come to you; you have to seek them out. Attend at least one trade show or conference per year (Valuation Expo is this week) to learn about new trends and efficiency tools. Don’t leave your enthusiasm for new ideas behind at the show either. Share your conference findings with others in the organization and make a plan to see what works best for your workflow. Each appraiser’s style varies according to his or her scope of work, physical location and personal preference. Some tools will work better for you than others — in other words, there is no such thing as a silver bullet.
We’ll continue to listen to appraisers, lenders, investors and regulators and create next generation tools for appraisers that drive efficiencies and improve quality by leveraging the cloud, data and analytics.
Buzz: George, we know you think big and bold, always. What does ACI have in store to share with everyone at Valuation Expo?
Opelka: We’re excited to give attendees of Valuation Expo the opportunity to test-drive ACI Sky; the only fully cloud-based, conception-to-production appraisal platform with more than 500 forms available today. Sky is a web-based platform that is browser- and device-agnostic, meaning that it works perfectly on your Mac, tablet or whatever device you own. Sky serves as a collaborative workspace, where an appraisal team can work together on order assignment, report generation and fulfillment – all in real time. Integrated data feeds drive efficiencies and empower appraisers to make better-informed decisions. All of this efficiency paired with the freedom to work where and when you want, gives early-adopters a leg up on the competition. Robust, cloud-based products are the dawn of a new era in appraising and ACI is at the forefront of this technology. Next on the Sky development front is a cooperative comps database, where a network of appraisers can securely share data.
We will also showcase Sky Writer at Valuation Expo. Sky Writer puts Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) at appraisers’ fingertips with a simple, dialogue-driven wizard that guides them through USPAP compliance and auto-fills forms and addendums.
As an industry leader, ACI will continue to invest in solutions that meet the demands of our industry and to ensure that appraisers play a critical role in the future.
Buzz: Thank you George for taking the time to answer some questions for us.
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