Tag Archives: Appraisal Management Company

4 Tips to Get Your Home Fall & Winter Ready

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Get ready for vibrant colored leaves and trees, crisp weather, and lots of pumpkins. Fall is almost here! As the seasons change, so do our home needs. We don’t want you to be left in the cold when winter slowly sneaks up on us, so here are four quick tips to get your home Fall and Winter ready.

1. Safety First

The safety of your home is a top priority, especially when the chilly Fall winds starts to take over the Summer sun. Some items that should always be tested? Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure to replace the batteries in all detectors, lightly brush away dust from the detector wall, and test the detectors to verify they are working properly.

Cleaning and inspecting the fireplace is sometimes overlooked, so always make sure to check for creosote buildup, as it is highly flammable. Don’t stop there though, dryer vents can cause quite the headache if not attended to.  Be sure to check for lint build up in the vents; if left unattended it could be a major fire hazard. Speaking of which, having a fire extinguisher in your house is essential for emergencies, and it should be easily accessible.

2. Inspect Your Roof

As for the exterior of your home, one of the biggest things to look for when weather-proofing is to make sure your roof is in tip-top shape. Start by scanning the entire area for loose, missing, or damaged shingles. This is a simple, yet effective way to find minor issues that could turn into big problems if left untreated. A few loose shingles could mean a leak, and nobody wants a leaky roof when rain, snow, and ice start piling on.  You can also check your roof from inside your attic. How? Simple- check the underside for water damage and holes.

Checking your gutters is another way to make sure your roof is stable for the Fall and Winter weather. Make sure your gutters are free of granule accumulations, and water can flow freely. Follow these tips, and your roof will be weather ready.

3. Check Your Furnace

Before the cold air sets in, make sure your furnace is ready to handle it. The first thing to do is clean or replace the furnace filter. Over the Summer months, the filter accumulates dust, debris, allergens, etc., and if not cleaned or replaced it can cause issues when you need to start turning the heat back on. In most case, simply changing the furnace filter will create a big difference in air quality, and your furnace will run more efficiently. Also, if you have the following: unusual sounds, poor performance, and/or erratic behavior, these are all signs that you may need to have someone inspect your furnace sooner rather than later.

4. Patch It Up

What is a good way to save money on your heating bill? Caulking and weather-stripping your windows and doors of course! When cold drafts blow in your house, you are more likely to crank up the heat, resulting in higher heating bills. But with a little caulk around your windows and doors, and weather-stripping, it can be all you need to make sure your home is comfortable and cozy for the cold weather. You can also use caulk around vents, cables and all pipes that run outside of your home. Even if you have already pre-weather-stripped your home, it is always a good idea to re-inspect your work periodically, as weather-stripping can weaken over time.

We are all enjoying the last few weeks of Summer, but it is a great time to start thinking about weather-proofing your home for the Fall and Winter season. These tips, combined with general home upkeep will prevent you from having costly emergency repairs, and get your home ready for colder, crisper weather.

-Sintia KrancicEngagement Coordinator

We Value More Than You Think

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Many companies will say they appreciate their employees and occasionally they will show it by hosting a holiday party or buying lunch for their team.  However, how much do these occasional events affect employees and their engagement at work?  We would say, not that much. Which is why at Class Appraisal, we do things differently.

We know that without our team members, we wouldn’t be as successful as we are.  And that is why we strive to create and maintain a fun culture where people enjoy coming in to work every day.  To do this, we provide team building events, and fun office perks that showcase just how much we appreciate our team members. In fact, our Team Member Services department was put in place to do everything we can to ensure our team members are happy.

So how do we differ from our competitors?  We take fresh ideas and perspectives and put them into action! We provide fun and exciting benefits and team events that not only boost morale, but also helps build great relationships.  We create a fun and friendly work environment by implementing benefits around the office that other companies may not provide; our fresh fruit water being one of them.  Every morning we make a fresh fruit infused water for our team members to enjoy throughout the day, along with unlimited coffee and drinks from our pop machine of course.  We also have a snack cart filled with as many goodies as you can carry, and frequent team appreciation lunches.  Nonetheless, it’s not just the perks that engage people in the workplace. At Class Appraisal, every person is treated with respect and their voice matters.  We compile their ideas and opinions and implement them into our daily office life.  Whether some of the suggestions are to help manage a pipeline more efficiently, or providing concepts for fun events, we take every team member’s idea into consideration.

We know that making our team happy at work is important, so we not only provide in-house perks and benefits, we also create fun and exciting events for our team outside of the office.  Color Runs, Escape Room Events, Painting with a Twist, attending an annual Tigers baseball game; these are just some of the fun group activities that we sponsor for our team. It is a way for everyone to relax and unwind after a long day’s work, while enjoying an activity with their fellow team members.  It’s also a great way for people in different departments to get to know one another and for our new hires to get to know the whole team.

Ultimately, we want our team to know that they are valued and appreciated.  Value is created through people working together and motivating each other. It is sometimes overlooked in the business industry, but at Class Appraisal we make it a point to appreciate and value every team member, because without them we wouldn’t have the success we achieved today.

Does this sound like a team you want to be a part of? Join us today, we are hiring!

Learn more by visiting: http://www.classappraisal.com/about-us/careers/

-Sintia Krancic, Engagement Coordinator

Beyond Customer Service

“Your Customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” ~Damon Richards

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We are constantly hearing about how great customer service is critical and perhaps the most important competitive advantage for any business to possess.  When we do hear about ‘phenomenal service’ it is usually linked to large organizations such as “Amazon or Apple”.  One might ask, do we have to be like those organizations to have exceptional customer service?  And most importantly, we hear so often how important customer satisfaction is but how often are we taught the strategies to achieve it?

Let’s be serious, in a production based atmosphere, where a person may forget to take a lunch or even get up to use the bathroom, how often is it that this same person has the time or even the gumption to pick up the newest article on “Exceptional Customer Service” and read it, let alone apply it to their day to day activities? The answer is, “not often enough”.  While training is a key aspect to empowering team members with the skills they need to do a great job; it is also true that retention of that training may be short-lived if it is not also built into the company’s culture.  So we can train our socks off with new hires and prepare them for the “Great Customer Experience” but once they hit the floor, chances are their head will be swimming with daily tasks, new responsibilities and the fear of keeping it all together.

So how then do we create an atmosphere that is customer centric with a goal of exceptional customer care?  The first step is by hiring the right people.  Finding people who already demonstrate the desire to provide a pleasurable experience for the customer and who possess the positive energy to transform a team with an upbeat attitude and an “I can change the world one customer at a time” mentality.  Steve Jobs once said “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who actually do”.   We do not have to achieve what Steve Jobs achieved to change the world.  We can make a difference one person – one customer at a time.  While working in Customer Service, I worked with a broker who called me almost daily to check on her appraisals.  One day she called in for an update and I noticed she was under the weather.  After providing her with her order update I made a point to wish her well before hanging up.  She called a few days later for another update and I simply asked if she was feeling better.  She was astounded by the fact that I not only remembered she had been ill but cared enough to ask how she was doing.  Folks, it does not take much to make a memorable impression.  The Golden Rule is so simple and so true; when we treat others the way we would like to be treated; we are more likely to be treated that way in return.

Yet, it is my opinion that great customer service is within us, and while training and development will provide us skills and strategies to improve upon, it comes down to the “heart” we bring to each day – to each customer – to each experience that truly matters.  The truth is “the customer’s perception is your reality”.  So ask yourself, what do you want your reality to be?  Then go out and create it!

-Susan Stirling – Training Specialist, Team Member Services

Welcome to the Class Appraisal Website (version 2.0)!

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I wanted to take a moment to talk to you, our blog readers.  As a business that works on a national level, our website is the one tool that is working for Class Appraisal 100% at all times.  It is available to anyone, anywhere, at any time.  With a few precise clicks on your keyboard, you will find yourself on our digital doorstep.  We want to make sure that when you arrive, the content and topics are helpful, up-to-date, relevant, and fresh.  We visualize our website as an extension of our team.  It is a representation of who we are, what we do, and the ideals of what we represent.

So the question becomes, why are you blogging about this? Or how is this even important?

The short answer is that sometimes this is the first interaction someone has with us.  This may be because they googled “appraisal management companies,” someone referred them to us, or any other myriad of ways that landed them on our website.  With this technology comes opportunity – the opportunity to tell you our story.  Because of the scale we operate on, sometimes we don’t have the opportunity to meet everyone that we would like to face-2-face for the first introduction.  But, that is okay.  It is okay because like I said, our website is a representation of us.  It represents every team member we have at Class Appraisal.  It represents our ideals and the way we do business.  We operate as a team.  We win together, we lose together.  Our team members come together to drive this business on a daily basis.  That is the real Class Appraisal brand and story.  We want to share stories of the wonderful team members we have, their thoughts and all of their hard work.

I think sometimes we utilize so much technology (texting, emails, system messages) that communication becomes cold, the message gets lost and we disengage on a personal level.  This is the exact opposite of what we want to do.  We want to build relationships. Relationships that will last.  We want people to know us.  If you have an issue, call us.  We want to solve the issue.  It may be old fashioned, but we follow the old mentality of answering every call in as few rings as possible with a person, not a machine.  But there is more.  We want to know you. We want to know where there are issues.  We want to know what problems you are facing.  We want to know how we can help you grow your business.  At the end of the day, we just want to help. Feel free to reach out to our team and ask questions, after all that is what we are here for.

In conclusion, from a technical standpoint, this space is for blogging, pure and simple.  But if there is one thing that I have learned in all of my years on the web, it is that the best blog posts resonate on a personal level from real stories told by the people talking about their experiences.  Blogs don’t have to be sets of useless, lifeless words; we are not using this as a sales tool.  This will be a space where we can grow and learn together.  We ask you to come back frequently, give us feedback, help us help you, read our stories as we build a better tomorrow, together, today.

Brian Dietderich
Marketing Director

Panel Management: In-House vs. AMC

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Use an Appraisal Management Company (“AMC”) or manage the appraisal process in-house? That is the simple questions that lenders across the country are asking themselves. A large shift in the industry is towards utilizing the AMC model. So for the lenders who have yet to take part in that shift, the question remains… What are the risks and benefits of managing your own panel? Some will say it is the control of having the process in-house, however, coupled with that control are the inherent compliance risks.

We all know that we work in a highly regulated industry. We all know that compliance is essential and at the forefront of our industry. It is a full-time job just to stay abreast of all the new regulations. Even when we see the regulations, it is a whole separate process to interpret them. When it comes to interpretation, unfortunately we all know too well that the law is filled with “grey area”.

I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some of the pertinent rules that would play a role in a lender managing their own panel. This article is not meant to be legal counsel, nor is it intended to be an exhaustive list of regulations that need to be adhered to when managing your own panel. I am merely outlining certain information that you should be aware of. Ultimately the responsibility lies on you to either utilize an AMC who you have properly vetted out, or to retain counsel to assist and advise you in implementing a compliant process for you in-house.

First and foremost, we must be aware of the Appraiser Independence Requirements (“AIR”). Among other things, AIR prohibits certain parties from having any influence in the selection of an appraiser.

The legislation draws a clear distinction in the rules between production/origination staff and panel management staff. There must be an absolute divide between the production staff and the staff managing the panel. An employee’s title alone, does not take them out of any involvement in the production/origination. Is your panel management team secluded from your origination team? Are they on a different floor? Different office? Different building all together? People have interpreted this ruling in different ways; however, it is completely possible that you may need to establish an entirely distinct and separate office location solely dedicated to panel management. This can be extremely tricky, as even simple communication may be enough to be construed as a compliance issue. What type of proof can you provide an Auditor to evidence that there is a complete and clear separation?

Another important issue is Mandatory Reporting. I have spoken to lenders who seem to be under the impression that the Dodd-Frank Mandatory Reporting requirements only apply to AMC’s. That is not the case at all. Mandatory Reporting does in fact apply to lenders as well as AMC’s. If an Auditor approached you and asked for your system of reporting as well as the number of reports in the previous 12 months, what would be your response? Who did you report to? Do you have a compliant response? You must have a process in place to comply with the Dodd-Frank Mandatory Reporting Requirements, when it comes to the appraisers on your panel.

What about vetting? Another process that must be implemented when managing your own panel is a compliant process on vetting, adding, and even removing appraisers from your panel. What exclusionary lists are you scrubbing the appraisers against? Are you checking for disciplinary action? State or Federal level? What documents are you asking for and reviewing when adding appraisers to your panel? Resume? Past reports? License/Certification? E&O? Driver’s License? Are you conducting interviews with each appraiser? Conducting background checks? Are you checking if they are FHA/HUD approved? These are just a few of the factors that go into researching and adding appraiser to your panel. Of course, the most important question to ask yourself is, where do you store all this information/documentation and do you have easy access to it upon request from an Auditor?

Lastly, consider post-delivery of the report, are you going to allow for a reconsideration procedure? If you determine that you want to offer a process such as this, who on your staff is going to handle it? How are you going to insure there is no pressure in this process? The reconsideration process is one of the most difficult areas of our industry. You are attempting to walk that line of giving the appraiser additional information to consider, without crossing over into the realm of pressuring or forcing the appraiser to utilize the additional information. How do you handle that? What precautions and training have you put in place?

I am sure that some of you reading this already have processes in place and have no concerns. To you, I say congratulations and good job. However, I know for a fact that there are a number of you currently reading this that are way behind. Generally speaking, people, even more specifically our industry is very reactive. Looking at past trends and history, we wait till the waves hit, and then we react by creating a plan or process. It is no longer safe to operate in this manner (it never really was). If you want to sustain longevity in this industry you need to shift with the times and become more proactive than ever.

In all, deciding to manage your own panel is a big decision that can result in all kinds of implications. In this article, I have posed a number of hypothetical questions. These questions are not intended to be the groundwork for your processes; they are simply intended to get the ball rolling in terms of assisting you in being proactive and insulating your company from the serious liability that you may currently be vulnerable to on a daily basis. The bottom line is, if you are going to carry the burden of panel management in-house, you absolutely cannot afford to do it in a noncompliant manner.

John P. Hamameh, Esq.
Chief Compliance Attorney

 

johnJohn P. Hamameh, Esq is the Chief Compliance Attorney at Class Appraisal. His priority is to help guide our clients through the ever changing industry regulations and ensure that every report is compliant with federal guidelines. John’s attention to detail, ability to interpret legislation and experience in the real estate industry, makes him a valuable asset to Class Appraisal and our clients.