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5 Tips for a Faster Home Appraisal

By: Kimberly Morrison-Schop, President

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history and the services you offer.

I currently serve as President of Class Appraisal, a national AMC headquartered in Birmingham, Michigan. I have worked in the Appraisal, Real Estate, and Mortgage Industry for over 20 years. Appraiser, Realtor, Loan Officer, Analyst, Manager, Project Manager and Vice President are just some of my previous titles.

Founded in 2009, Class Appraisal, Inc is a Nationwide Appraisal Management Company. We have earned a reputation for delivering outstanding customer service to some of the nation’s largest lenders. We offer traditional valuation products as well as compliance based consulting and reviews. We achieve high levels of service, quality and compliance by adhering to the philosophy that dedication is the key to not only our client’s, but our own success.

What is the typical amount of time that it takes to have a home appraisal done?

5 Days from receipt of order to delivery of the completed report. For more complex homes or rural areas, it can take up to two weeks.

What are some of the biggest factors in determining how fast a homeowner will get a copy of the report?

Typically, an appraiser will be able to write up an appraisal within 48 hours after inspection. This includes doing a drive-by and taking photos of each comparable. If the appraiser is not able to verify data through public records, or the subject is complex, it can slow the process down.

Can you give some common examples of unique property features you’ve seen in Michigan-area houses?

I have come across many unique features over my 15+ years of appraising. Some of the most memorable include a heated driveway, infinite pool, home movie theatre, climate controlled wine cellar, personal observatory and custom-built bars.

What are two ways that a homeowner or occupant can help speed up the home appraisal process?

Being prepared with information is key. Provide the appraiser with a copy of your site or mortgage survey and an itemized list of repairs/updates that have been made to the home over the past 10 years. Other useful information you can provide is your Home Owner’s Association contact information, private road agreement info and permits for a new addition, if applicable.

In most cases, how much contact does a home appraiser have with homeowners after the appraisal is complete?

In most cases the borrower only deals with the appraiser while setting up their appointment and during the actual inspection. If borrower noticed any major discrepancies or feels any sales data was missed, they will relay that information to their lender. From there, the lender will communicate with the AMC and the AMC will work directly with their appraiser. We have policies in place and make every effort to comply with Appraiser Independence Requirements in order to prevent any appraiser pressure or undue influence.

What’s the best way for people to reach you and your company?

There are multiple ways to get in touch with us. You can visit our website at www.classappraisal.com; call us at 248-220-2360 or finally, you can email us at info@classappraisal.com.

Original interview information below:

Check out my interview, 5 Tips for a Faster Home Appraisal on Michigan Homes, one of the top sites for Michigan homes for sale, including Macomb, MI homes for sale. Michigan Homes also services Illinois real estate and Pennsylvania homes for sale.

What does “World Class Customer Service” really mean?

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We’ve all heard the term “World Class Customer Service.” This phrase brings companies like Amazon, Lowe’s, and The Ritz-Carlton to mind.   Forward thinking organizations with sound leadership strive to make a positive customer experience a staple of their business model.

The primary goal for any service related business is to build a loyal base of customers that are consistently happy with the product and service that your organization is providing. In any service-based company, there will occasionally be issues resulting in unhappy customers. One of the most overlooked segments of customer service is the recovery or the response.

Challenges and difficult transactions can happen no matter how great of a company you run. One of the biggest areas that companies fail in is not acting swiftly and decisively to come up with solutions when problems occur. The beauty of American business is that we as consumers typically have our choice of what service provider(s) we want to work with. If company A drops the ball, company B will be right there to try to swoop in and earn your business. That’s why it is crucial to any good business to treat your customers well and never take them for granted. By reacting quickly to resolve an unpleasant situation, you will most likely be able to retain your customer and possibly create an opportunity to make the relationship with that customer stronger than it was before. In my experience, picking up the phone and speaking directly with your client is the best course of action so that nothing gets lost in translation.

Conversely, if you fail to quickly correct that issue with your unhappy customer, you may have not only lost the customer, but you may have also hurt your reputation in your industry, causing you to lose a chance to win business from other prospects.

In the business that we’re in, the Appraisal Management space, the industry is relatively small and tight knit. If you do an excellent job servicing a client, word will likely travel fast that you’re a good provider and other potential clients will want to work with you. Of course, the same goes for the alternative: negative feedback tends to travel faster than the positive. That’s why it’s important to treat every client and every call as if it’s the most important call of the day. This type of mindset needs to start at the top and resonate all the way through your organization.

So how do you make this a reality on a granular level? The key is fundamentals. When the phone rings, make sure that it is answered quickly and professionally.   When an email is received, make sure that your team responds quickly and in a detailed manner that offers your customer the solution that they are seeking. Deliver on what you promise. If you tell your customer that you are going to do something, do it. Finally, be likeable. It sounds simple, but it’s amazing how often people let problems from their personal lives effect the way that they communicate with people in their professional lives. If a restaurant server is having a bad day at home and carries that negative attitude into work, it is likely that his customers will notice his ill performance and, in turn, will probably tip that server less. Why should that be any different over the phone? You owe it to your customers to give them your best all of the time, even if you’re the one having the bad day.

Deliver your customers truly “World Class Customer Service” and you will find that growing your company and landing new clients will come easily. Your results will speak for themselves and people will want to work with you because you are the best at what you do.

Jon Tallinger – S.V.P. & National Sales Director

Road Conditions

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For many of us living in the northern two thirds of the country, we have had one of the coldest, snowiest, and nastiest winters on record. Terms like wind-chill factor, polar vortex alert, and emergency patching crews have become an all too familiar phrase during the past few weeks. In addition to bundling up like the Michelin Man, we have had to dodge obstacles on our commute, ranging from small ice chunks to vehicle swallowing craters.

If a freshly paved road is analogous to the perfect, smoothest appraisal, then the various obstacles we are encountering on our icy, crumbling, roads can also be comparable to the issues our “challenging orders” provide us.

The “chuckhole” is where you are proceeding down the road nice and smooth and out of nowhere… CHUNK…your tire falls downward into a gaping hole. Just as a good grip on the wheel and an alert mind can keep you safe, a solid foundation of information and communication on an appraisal order can keep the order on course and quickly resume its path to completion.

The “minefield” is where the road looks like it is more patch than pavement, and the best course of action is caution and patience. There are those appraisal orders where everyone knows they will be difficult from the start. Prudence and patience are also the best attributes for successful completion of the order.

Finally, there is the scariest condition of all, “Black Ice.” It strikes when you least expect it, and in many cases you hope your previous preparation and caution are enough to get you through the patch safely and unharmed. There are those orders where everything seems to be running along in prime optimal conditions when out of nowhere, the order is moving sideways and headed for failure. With proper planning, information, and communication, we strive to make this condition’s duration as short as possible. Submitting an appraisal order with full and correct contact information, clearly-noted special instructions to the appraiser, and providing necessary documentation for the appraiser, are just a few of many items to help prepare for a situation we all hope doesn’t occur, but recognize that sometimes it can happen.

Warmer weather is approaching soon, and I am looking forward to shorts, polo shirts and driving with the windows down. Road destruction will be replaced by road construction, and the cycle will begin again next winter. I wish everyone here the smoothest ride along the appraisal order highway.

Bill Adlhoch – Key Account Executive

More Than Just Cogs In A Machine

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Most people don’t sit and think about what makes a company actually run smoothly. We all probably have different ideas of how this happens. Here is a typical business model: 1) employees 2) purpose or demand for your product 3) processes to fulfill that purpose 4) resources 5) customers and clients. It is true; you need all of that to have a business that will succeed. Those factors alone, however, will not make a company truly successful for all parties involved.

As any employee, we all know we are cogs that are expected to help keep the well-oiled machine ticking. At Class Appraisal, no matter where you are in the chain of command, teamwork has to be the main ingredient in the “oil” of the machine. Teamwork is the combined and coordinated effort of a group of people acting together toward a common goal, outcome or cause. It’s scary how only one unwilling person can throw off the effort of twenty, deteriorating the common goal of customer satisfaction.

Another important ingredient added to the oil is high morale. Sometimes work gets hard, and you need a cheerleader to keep you going, someone to push you harder and make you stronger, smarter, and more efficient. Maybe you need that one laugh during your day to break through the seriousness of what you are doing. We have an office manager who does her best to maintain a healthy level of morale within the company every day. In addition to the office manager, every team should have a great leader, who not only includes himself in the hardships the teams go through, but who is also able to boost morale for the entire team while doing it. It’s amazing how far one genuine smile or kind action can go, and it will be felt by your co-workers and clients.

No matter how big or small the cogs are, the employees are all important in keeping the machine running. It’s important for every office department to not only know that, but feel it as well. Every department is the backbone of the company. Everyone has a job to do, and it all boils down to working together to create the ultimate customer experience.

With all of the changes that we have experienced here at Class Appraisal in the last few months, it could have been expected that we would falter a little. We did not! Instead, we took this very trying time to let our teamwork overcome the difficult challenges we were facing with the platform change to Appraisal Scope. All the departments were amazing at lending their helping hands. A big “THANK YOU” goes out to all who work with us. You all helped make this platform change a major success. Thank you so much for your patience and willingness to adapt with us.

We appreciate you! Perfect teamwork!

Angela Maurus – Key Accounts

Behind The Scenes

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Every company needs a behind the scenes crew, people who keep the company functioning from the inside. It’s like going to the theater. You have the performers and the crew members. The crew members are the ones dressed in black, running around during intermissions, changing the scenery, and making sure everything is ready to go before the next act. Once the play has ended, it is the performers that come out for the final bow and get the standing ovation. In my opinion, the crew should be out there as well, getting just as much praise and applause because what they do is equally important. If you had actors on an empty stage, how boring would that be? I would ask for a refund.

I am the Office Manager at Class Appraisal, and I am proud to be one of the many behind the scenes crew members for this company. I am forever running around the office, doing what I can to help make sure everything is as it should be. I wonder sometimes how my desk gets so messy because I don’t think I sit at it long enough to mess it up. To be good at your job, you have to truly believe in what you do and who you do it for. I have had many different jobs in my life, and this is the first time I can honestly say, “I love my job.” I love what I do because I believe in my company’s new direction.

Recently a lot of changes took place here, and I was put into a position where I could actually make a difference. I was given the opportunity to be a part of something that makes me better, not just as an employee but as a person. You may be asking yourself how being an office manager can make you a better person. Well, let me explain. My job consists of many things: the biggest is employee morale. If you have a company full of unhappy people, you may as well brace yourself because you are on a sinking ship. Your employees control the success of your company and how much business you generate. Why would someone choose you over your competition if they had poor customer service or a negative experience? The answer is simple: they wouldn’t. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of you.

With the help of a few employees, we were able to start up a Community Outreach Program, which has brought this company’s workers closer together as a whole. Being able to get everyone involved within the community has made a BIG impact on the community and the company. Last quarter we were able to personally deliver employee-donated food and clothing to a nearby homeless shelter while raising money for Gleaners Food Bank. Being the office manager gives me the opportunity to make someone else’s life better. I get to help people feel better about themselves and boost confidence. What could be better than that? Working together toward a common goal is what made our Community Outreach successful, and it’s just one thing that bonds our company, making it strong and efficient.

Nicole Thomson – Office Manager

How May I Help You?

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We live in a world where customer service is at the heart of everything we do. Whatever profession you may be in, you need customers in order to be successful. With that being said, it is crucial to understand the difference between customers and satisfied customers. This understanding will set you apart from your competition.

As a customer myself, I’m not only interested in the products offered to me, but also my experience along the way. Think about a time you experienced poor customer service. I’m sure it’s not long before you can think of several different occasions. Although a company will survive without my patronage, they will surely lose free advertising and my recommendation. All it takes is just one person to share his or her negative experience.  So why not go the extra mile to not only create, but also maintain a long lasting business relationship with all your customers? In the long run, excellent customer service will keep loyal clients and bring forth new ones, driving steady business to your company today and in the future. And always remember, customers never forget.

Here at Class Appraisal, you are not just another client, but rather a trusted friend in business. Not only does our staff understand the importance and value each relationship holds, but also the importance of maintaining each business relationship for years to come. It is no surprise that we may face challenges during the valuation process; however, aligning with a trusted business partner is vital to every successful business. Realistically speaking, there may not always be a perfect solution, but engaging with someone that you trust is important. Simply knowing you can trust someone who might live across the country or someone you have never met before is quite amazing! One way Class Appraisal strives to make this connection is by providing our clients with incomparable customer service. We are committed to doing the right thing in order to earn your trust and ensure your experience is a pleasant one.  Our team is passionate and determined to outperform our competition. Or should I say, continue to outperform our competition…

Elena Stojanovski – Business Relationship Director

The Piece That Holds It All Together

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The first thing I think of when I hear the word “vendor” is a busy, crowded marketplace with various colorful tents selling fruit, jewelry, clothing, and other various goods. The vendors are yelling out their goods, “Fresh fish!” There is bartering of prices and items being sold. Well, my job as a Vendor Manager is similar to that. The appraisers are the vendors, and I purchase from them. I build and maintain the relationships with our appraisers that will provide the best services to our clients for their borrowers. The appraisers sign up, go through our review process, and I manage their monthly scorecards, making sure they are meeting our standards to be on our panel.

My position gives me the opportunity to be a leader. The definition of a leader can vary from person to person. A successful leader excels in personal and interpersonal relationships. In my opinion, the best experiences in life stem from a relationship, perhaps a best friend, marriage, a child, or a mentor.  In my experience as a Vendor Manager, I have learned that it takes listening and learning how to adjust to others’ communication levels. The relationships I am building with our vendors are the most challenging and rewarding part of the experience. It is what moves the company forward, just like in any relationship personal or otherwise.

As you’ve read in the past Class Appraisal news releases, we’ve been going through some changes (for example, the new logo, website, and restructuring of the management team). It sounds overwhelming, but we are continuing to grow. Class Appraisal will be transitioning to the Appraisal Scope platform. We feel this will benefit both the clients and vendors. If you need any assistance with this transition, our Vendor Relations team is here for you.

Also, if you are not already signed up, please do so:

https://class.appraisalscope.com/index.php/admin/newappraiser

Chris McAllister – Vendor Manager

The Delicate Balance of Serving Two Industries: The AMC Saga

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Most people look at this industry from either the appraiser or the mortgage broker’s point-of-view. Not many stop to the think about the fine line Customer Relations within the AMC’s might have to walk. Many days it’s like scaling a mountain thousands of feet in the air on a magical journey with only a phone and a keyboard in tow. How, you may ask? Well, let me take you on this wonderful journey some have come to call “The AMC Saga.”

From the beautiful start of the order process, to the close of all revisions and the order reconciled, Customer Relations embarks on a wild journey. We travel all over the country via phone and computer. No two orders are ever the same. Some orders guide us through suburbia among cookie-cutter legal homes in residentially zoned neighborhoods. Some orders take us on a gallop through the Wild Western terrain, through ranches and abandoned buildings. We may travel to the West and find odd zoning restrictions or a Bed and Breakfast in the mountains. The East brings us the New England rush, and in the South, we explore the mountains and farms. Sounds magical, right? For some, sure…but for Customer Relations, well, that is where our journey becomes a bumpy ride.

You see, we don’t know of these situations until it’s brought to our attention. In most cases it’s after the appraiser has been to the property and the client is looking for a report to be delivered. This is where our fine line comes into play. In order for the best product to be delivered, these “bumps in the road” often come across my desk. It is my job to figure out the best solution: , one that is efficient for all parties involved. Let the phone calls and investigations begin!

Many times, situations like these require research. It’s like digging for treasure in a pitch-black cave without a map and a flashlight. Never fear, though. There is always a way to find the answer to the problem. For Customer Relations, the answer is being swift at identifying the problem, communicating it to our client, and working with the appraiser to gain the most helpful information. Sounds easy, right? Not always.

Sometimes, while the process is on hold, a borrower travels across the Atlantic to discover Europe. Other times, attorneys have high-profile cases so they can’t answer the phone or an appraiser is off to sea in the Pacific. Most of the time the issues are not so extravagant, such as not having clear title or being zoned commercial. In those moments, you as the client might be having a panic attack while the appraiser might be taking some aspirin and lying down to get rid of that migraine that just came on. Be patient with Customer Relations and remember it’s not their fault the appraiser was sent on the mission (in the mountains) found a home with 10 bedrooms, 8.5 bathrooms, and 9 kitchens.

Our job is to ensure those “bumps” along the journey are well managed, and despite the outcome, both parties walk away with a smile. We would like you to say, “WOW, that was crazy, but I’m so glad CLASS was on the journey with us! They made exploring this property a magical experience.”

Stay tuned for the next magical journey.

 Anya Prest – Key Account Executive

Rebooting the Human Machine

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Technology! I think back to when I was a child and I remember watching shows like Star Trek, Ironman, and Inspector Gadget, with amazement. Tiny communicators, advanced laser technology, super-computers, auto-sliding doors; all of it was so cool. Where I grew up, phones stayed in the kitchen, bound forever by the standard coiled up phone cord. The home computer (when we were finally fortunate enough to get one) was an old Gateway running Windows 3.0, and the internet was something we didn’t have for a long time. My older brothers thought it was funny to try and ruin Star Trek for me, saying things like “That’s not even real, it’s just Hollywood.”.

Anyone that has been in the Valuation or Mortgage industry for more than 5 years can assure you the times, and technology, have changed. Appraisers might as well call themselves Inspector Gadget! Technology like a la modes Pocket TOTAL, allows appraisers to collect and enter data collected in the field, and sync it to their winTOTAL form-filer software at the office. This speeds up inspections and allows more orders to be handled simultaneously. Communication technology like mobile email clients, text messaging, 4G LTE mobile data service, and GPS; all allow appraisers to move faster, work more efficiently, and travel further than ever before.

Computers and communication technology advance at a pace that is sometimes hard to keep up with. It seems like every year the investments you made in good equipment become obsolete as newer, smaller, more powerful equipment is designed and sold. Computer chips are integrated in to almost everything imaginable, and your average American is accustomed to high speed internet and broad cell phone coverage areas. It feels like just yesterday it took 20 minutes to download an article, and when you were expecting a call, you stayed by your phone, instead of keeping your phone by you.

Advancement in technology however, comes with “fine print” most people overlook. As everything speeds up, expectations change. Once it is determined that a certain level of service can be offered, it becomes expected. New standards are forged, and as the pace hastens, risk emerges. Speed doesn’t always ensure quality, and people can rarely keep up with the pace. Though technology will always serve to do the things we cannot, our industry cannot thrive on technology alone. A balance must be struck. Balance between technological expectations and human limitations. Too often, companies want to move services to the cloud or automate procedures, down-size the staff, and streamline the product. They forget the most important element of this industry; good relationships. This industry was built on relationships; good old fashioned quality relationships; and as more firms choose to be robotic with advanced technology, the firms that value relationships, and maintain the human machine, will become the industry leaders.

Adam DeRose – Director of Information Systems

Every File. Every Day. All The Way.

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Every File.  Every Day.  All The Way.

When it comes to Class Appraisal’s assigning process , the customer service tracking of an order to completion, and Key Accounts servicing of orders that are veering off line, I have a unique perspective to these processes as I am engaged in all 3 activities. I came up with the title of this blog on a whim. A short, snappy quip of how I approach my daily workload that would cover all the bases, and how I would like each client and Appraiser we deal with to view our efforts at Class Appraisal.

Let me break it down:

Every File.

Each order begins with finding a competent and available appraiser that is geographically familiar with the area of the assignment. Not every order is an assigning slam dunk, and for those challenging files, I reach out to our panel of appraisers to determine who in the market area is the most competent with respect to location, complexity and the product requested.

Once an Appraiser has accepted an order, I follow up on each and every file until the inspection is set. In some cases we need to obtain more contact information for the Appraiser. This type of communication is important because time stands still for no file. A file not acted upon is a file that is more likely to veer off track at a later time. Once an inspection is set, the file may ‘rest’. However, after the inspection is completed, it is back on the daily radar, up to and through the due date. We wish that every file was perfect upon first submission, but revisions do happen. As a Key Account Executive, I investigate every file in revision status and work tirelessly until the report is completed and delivered to the client.

 Every Day.

Each and every day we are here at Class Appraisal to service both our clients and vendors. We are not a creator of goods, but rather a facilitator of services, as mandated by federal regulations. It is how efficiently we facilitate that determines our success as an AMC. Every day I strive to make the process smoother by communication and acquired knowledge of the products offered in the valuation world. The last thing a borrower, broker or loan officer desires in the process is to be unaware of the status of the order. Appraisers also don’t want to wait endlessly for direction from the client as to how to proceed. I update both client and vendor on a daily basis for issues that need attention, and not just through impersonal messages and email. The simple act of picking up the phone and using old fashioned voice to voice communication is an invaluable tool I use to solve problems or clarify issues. I also welcome incoming calls. Class Appraisal fields on average over 350 calls daily and to paraphrase Forrest Gump: “When you pick up that phone, you never know what you’re gonna get”

All The Way.

It is one thing to look at an order, to touch an order and be a problem identifier. It is another to dig deep and be a problem solver. If I don’t know the answer, I will find the person within our organization that does and have the issue solved swiftly and accurately. Most issues and problems don’t resolve themselves and it is our responsibility not just to identify them accurately, but to follow through until the file has been completed.

Another approach I take with “All the way” is to not only look at the file as it is currently situated, but  look ahead and envision any potential problems that can be dealt with immediately while time is our ally, not our enemy. This forward thinking approach is vital to a smooth client-AMC-vendor relationship.

In conclusion, I wish to state that I have enjoyed my time here at Class Appraisal immensely, more so than any job I previously held. The fast pace, the great co-workers, and the constant decision making required is right up my alley. I look forward to working with each one of you with the mindset of: Every File. Every Day. All The Way.

Bill Adlhoch – Key Account Executive