The proptech company you’ve never heard of causing a stir in the mortgage industry
Jim Albertelli (pictured) is the CEO of Voxtur, a Canadian–American proptech company that is fast becoming the go-to provider of digital solutions for appraisers, lenders and governments with its next-generation valuation and appraisal-management platform.
The fact that Voxtur is doing it under the radar says much about its chief, who seems happier discussing the finer details of data analysis than being under the glare of publicity.
At first glance, it appears as though the company he leads has been an overnight success story, having unleashed a perfect-fit, oven-ready product, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“A team of 20 or so developers worked over several years to develop the platform. I added another 15 or so professionals to surround it with the corporate rigor components and legal compliance. Those people worked hand-in-glove to create the documentation necessary to pass corporate muster evaluation,” he said.
As for what this will mean for both appraisers and lenders, he was clear.
“We’re going to have complete visibility on the performance, because we actually track with our app all the appraisers in the system, so we’re going to do it more efficiently and effectively. Appraisers will make more, it will reduce the time to fund a loan and actually save our clients money,” he said.
Albertelli was, however, quick to dismiss suggestions that the platform would consign AMCs to the history books.
“I think what will happen is the AMCs will evolve,” he said. “They could be the outsource customer service department for keeping costs variable for a lender and maybe rely more on data science.”
Albertelli’s broad career path has seen him serve as an assistant district attorney in Georgia, “do a stint” as a legal advisor and found and sell a number of successful companies.
Despite this, he insisted the move to becoming a proptech expert was more a logical progression than a radical change.
“My background is finance and economics, but I never really left the financial principles that underpin my education. I enjoyed being a trial lawyer, it gave me the chance to tell stories to juries and to judges before going on my own and opening my own practice,” he said with a degree of savoir faire.
He moved back into financial services (“you’ve got to pay the rent”) before representing small real estate agents and becoming increasingly involved in the mortgage world.
“I started instantly to notice that there were a multitude of inefficiencies in the process, thinking we could do better as an industry for consumers and do better as an industry, for investors,” he said.
His law practice grew to serve the largest financial institutions in the US, including JP Morgan, Chase, Wells Fargo, the Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, while working closely with the GSEs on mortgage-related issues and the distress market.
He built his first eBay-style auction house in real estate in 2006, and when the market crashed in 2008, it became evident he had made the right business decision.
“There was a disconnect between the mortgage servicers and the consumers, and that just became more evident in the crash - I noticed that there were individual consumers who would like to buy these homes and that there were institutions that would like to liquidate them,” he explained.
But even this wasn’t enough for Albertelli. “I needed to support it with real estate brokers and understand what was going on with a specialized title product I developed, so I created an online real estate brokerage company,” he said.
He went on to sell the firm to Capital Management, but by then he had developed sufficient expertise in the mortgage industry to embark on a new venture - Voxtur.
Fast forward to today and the company is jostling for a top place in a market he estimates is worth $100 billion.
“Next year we’ll have $200 million, so we’ll double our top line revenue again. We’ve cracked the code in a unique way in the settlement services space, and that industry is roughly three companies in the US, representing about $30 billion right there,” he said.
Disarmingly dispassionate about the competition (“there are points of intersection between us”), his attention has now turned towards the future and the company’s next move.
“One of the nice things about Voxtur is that we are very nimble,” he said. “We have technology that supports tax assessment, and we think that we could do something really interesting that’s great for consumers and lenders.
“Next year will be big. There’s 140 million homeowners in the US and they get tax assessments every year – it’s a huge opportunity.”