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4. Assignment method
In addition to inquiring about how an AMC develops its larger panel of appraisers, brokers and originators also should know how an AMC selects its appraisers on a job-by-job basis.
The way that an AMC selects an appraiser for a specific assignment can range from computerized selection to personal, hand-picked selection. Finding the optimal appraiser for the specific job is the first step to ensuring an accurate and credible report.
How an AMC evaluates performance should be well understood by originators. Make sure you know the criteria used to select appraisers and make sure that decisions are not solely motivated by the lowest available fees. Companies that custom-select their appraisers and adhere to a four-day turnaround time are considered to be in line with industry-best practices.
5. Quality control
Next, brokers and originators should know how an AMC examines its appraisers’ work. Related, originators also should investigate the qualification requirements of a company’s quality-control examiners.
AMCs were originally intended to ensure an environment of non-influence for the appraisal-ordering process. How in-depth an AMC chooses to organize its process is entirely up to the company itself. Typically, however, there is a minimum administrative review of the appraisal before it’s delivered.
This function can be performed by a computer program or a staff member, who may or may not be familiar with the USPAP. That said, industry-best practices dictate that the individual performing a quality control examination should, at minimum, be a former certified appraiser or underwriter and should have completed the current USPAP seven-hour update course.
A higher-quality report means that fewer conditions will come back from a deal’s underwriters. Unfortunately, it’s often the case that appraisals reviewed for quality by a computer program are prone to flaws. It’s important, therefore, to ask AMCs what they require of their quality control examiners, as well as how they guarantee that you’ll receive a quality report.
6. Review and rebuttal
A truly high-quality AMC will have a protocol in place that allows for rebuttals. If an AMC does permit rebuttals, brokers and originators should be sure that this process is facilitated by a professional who can communicate their concerns and provide additional information to appraisers in a fair and unbiased manner.
Although the availability of a review-and-rebuttal process is ideal, this level of service is not required in any sense, thus it’s not offered by every AMC. There are many reasons why an AMC may not offer this service, but the most prevalent reason simply may be a shortage of staff members who are capable of fielding the types of questions raised by direct-endorsement underwriters, who often provide additional evidence to be used for consideration in the appraisal.
The AMC that you choose should have a team that’s capable of acting as the liaison between you and the appraiser. This must be a person whom you trust to present your information in the event that it could alter the report. AMCs that choose to build this process into their list of available services are businesses that often have a significant edge over competitors.
7. Customer support
Finally, brokers and originators should carefully consider an AMC’s customer-support services. Asking yourself several key questions can help you evaluate the quality of an organization’s customer service. For instance:
What is the response time to my questions regarding an order?
Is the customer-service staff knowledgeable and helpful in finding solutions?
If issues with an appraisal arise, is there a swift resolution?
Am I offered an opportunity to leave a message, or does it seem as though my calls are lost altogether?
Some AMCs have automated answering services that collect messages — all while time ticks by. Other companies may promise to return calls the same day, while still others may not have a specific standard response time.
Regardless, the AMCs that are industry leaders frequently offer personalized customer support 12 hours per day, accommodating business on both coasts. A quality customer-support staff often can be an AMC’s best sales force, so a company that hires accordingly will surpass expectations. Look for a team that satisfies your needs for timely resolutions and also is willing to enlist anyone in the company for assistance.
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These seven areas are critical to an appraisal’s quality and the speed with which it’s delivered. Brokers and originators must juggle a variety of tasks each day, so it’s imperative that their chosen AMC is facilitating the closing process — not complicating it. Ultimately, the only person that your customers will recall when reflecting on their experience is you. The support that you receive, however, can make all the difference in defining that image in the eyes of the customer.
Leah Phinney is director of new product development for Class Appraisal Inc. and was instrumental in the development of the seven AMC core competencies.
Class Appraisal defines best practices using its gradient to differentiate the seven service levels that define the appraisal management process. Named as a top performer by a leading software producer, Class Appraisal has been recognized as the new standard in appraisal management. Reach Phinney at firstname.lastname@example.org or (866) 333-8311 ext. 321.
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