How industry players can solve the anaemic supply of appraisers

Computershare Property Solutions president Jim Smith talks about the firm’s efforts to attract young talent

How industry players can solve the anaemic supply of appraisers
Computershare Property Solutions has been one of the industry’s leaders in valuation, asset management, property preservation, and property inspections. The firm was once known as the Computershare Mortgage Solutions, but efforts to  further define what the firm offers its clients have led to its rebranding to Property Solutions.

MPA recently spoke with the firm’s president, Jim Smith, to know more about its initiatives to address the thinning supply of appraisers in the country. In this Q&A, Smith also talks about his view on innovations like drones and how the industry benefits from them.

MPA: Computershare has been around for more than 30 years. What led to its recent rebranding from Mortgage Solutions to Property Solutions?
Jim Smith:
This kind of rebrand was really an attempt to provide a better clarification about what we do. Valuation, collateral, title, asset management, property preservation, property inspections and all the stuff that we do are really all about the property.  Just recently, we decided to reform the company legally, so we are now Computershare Property Solutions.

At the end of the day, the Property Solutions concept would really be more indicative of what we do.  We do provide all kinds of property services around property, the asset itself – not so much the borrower, more around the asset. 

MPA: We’ve heard about the appraiser shortage. Are you doing anything to proactively to try to get fresh talent in?
We are trying to do a lot more staff appraisals. We bring appraisers who are doing the 2,000 hours of training work on as staff and give them added benefits and more compensation. We have licensed appraisers on staff so they can’t just sign off on their work.

Most appraisers pass the exam and serve two years’ worth of work without really getting paid all that much. It’s a quite daunting process for anybody coming in the marketplace. 

On our part, we bring them on as our salaried employees. They can have full benefits of the company and we give them everything that a normal employee would have with the path of getting a license for residential appraisal. I am also a CMB-certified mortgage banker, so I’m also working with MBA Institute, Society of CMBs to try to drive change in the marketplace.  

MPA: What’s your take on technology’s influence on the mortgage industry?
 Obviously, data is key, and I think most valuation companies out there now are embracing data more so than ever before.  With data, public records, and other analytical tools such as home-price forecasting, we are able to utilize them not just for quality assurance but also to provide appraisers in the field more information, helping them craft a better and more accurate report.

As far as the inspection goes, you see a lot more appraisal waivers now. Technologies like drones and applications on the phones, which borrowers themselves can use to take photos of their house already exist.  A lot of that technology is there. We had a couple of things like that on the road map, but really you have to get acceptance from the investor community to kind of go outside of the norm.

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