Tag Archives: Residential Appraisal

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

Industry Unity

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I have heard appraisers say, “AMC’s don’t care about the appraisers, they only care about getting their money from the lenders”. I have heard lenders say, “just get a new appraiser, there tons of them out there”. In between all these talks, lie us, the AMC.

How do we handle being in the middle of this ever changing appraisal market? Should we chase the money and not pay any attention to our appraisers? Not at all. Should we make our appraisers our one and only focus and pay no attention to our clients? Probably not a good idea. So what do we do? How do we handle this?

I think the key to a successful AMC and its relationship in the market is simple. Just like our society as a whole, there is one big key that is often overlooked… Equality. Being an attorney, I know a little something about the history of equality (I won’t bore you with Constitution speak).

Appraisers, Lenders, AMC’s, we are all just pieces to a puzzle. When you are putting together a puzzle, one piece is not more important than the other, is it? No, you either have a completed puzzle or you don’t. You need all the pieces for it to be a finished product.

I am sure there are some AMC’s out there who may believe that the appraisers play an insignificant role in the process. They may believe their one and only focus should be on the clients who are sending them business and money. In my opinion, the AMC’s who treat their appraisers as if they are not important, not only give other AMC’s a bad name, it is bad for the industry as a whole.

Our clients are important, they keep our business alive. Our appraisers are important, they keep our business alive. If those last two sentences sound redundant, that is intentional. Both sides are equally important, they are not mutually exclusive. To quote one of the best shows of the 1980’s and 1990’s, “You can’t have one without the other” (Married with Children, for those of you who didn’t get it! I am disappointed with you, if so).

We could have lenders sending us thousands and thousands of orders, but if we don’t have the quality appraisers we need, those orders are obsolete. We could have a panel loaded with all the top appraisers in the country, but if we do not have any orders to assign to them, that outstanding panel is obsolete. Our focus and the focus of all AMC’s, should be to make sure that both sides of the transaction are treated fairly. We are all in this industry together and the best results will be seen when we are all able to work within the industry together.

We understand that there are appraisers out there who do not like AMC’s. We also understand there are appraisers out there who will adamantly refuse work from AMC’s. That is beyond our control. As an AMC, we do not write or create laws. We are not Chris Dodd or Barney Frank (Dodd-Frank). The rules are there, they are what they are, our next best option is to work within the confine of those rules and be the best at what we do.

Again, we might be the connection between lenders and appraisers, but we are still only one piece of the puzzle. For the industry to thrive and the puzzle to come together, all the pieces must adapt and coexist. Just like a puzzle, all the pieces must be cohesive and fit perfectly together to see the exceptional completed product.

-John Hamameh, Chief Compliance Attorney

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

Training Matters – Essential Skills for Today’s Passion Driven Workforce

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Have you heard the quote “hire passion, train skills”?  In every interview I have participated in whether as the interviewer or the interviewee, the word passion has been used.  “I have to have passion for what I do”, “This is my passion”, “I would be very passionate working for this company”. But what exactly is passion?  How do we relate it to the workplace?  This and many other questions swirl through my mind when I ponder this quote and try to substantiate a person’s passion.  I think I found an answer.  I read an article today that claims “great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them; they hire motivated people and inspire them”.  Ah ha, so passion could be motivation and inspiration.  And if I continue with this train of thought, training could be thought of as part of that inspiration. So, training does matter!

Class Appraisal is built on a foundation that includes 5 pillars of success.  One of those pillars state “Continuous Growth and Learning is Essential for Long Term Success”.  Thankfully this is not only a foundational pillar but an action step in our daily work experience.  While we are continuously learning and honing our skills during the work day; nothing replaces the opportunity to gather with fellow team members and explore new topics, share ideas and expand our knowledge on our industry and social platforms.

Class Appraisal adheres to the quote I mentioned earlier.  People are either motivated or they are not.  We give motivated people the opportunity to learn and grow; to prosper not only in their daily job but in their daily life.  Today’s workforce is made up of a wide variety of age groups, backgrounds and ethnicities; we are not a one stop shop world.  This can be a challenge to some, or as we see it here at Class Appraisal, it can be a great opportunity to share our experiences and corral them into one team that represents everyone.  We love a challenge and become sponges; absorbing any and all information we are presented with to become the best AMC in the industry.  How is that accomplished; through training.  When the FHA Handbook was being updated and the date drew near for 4000.1 to take over, who was ready?  We were; with a full company roll out of all the changes that were to take effect.  That roll out took place before the effective date and our team was equipped and ready to answer our many appraiser and client questions on what needed to be included in the new FHA reports.  We were equally prepared when TRID was knocking on our door.  With another company-wide training Class Appraisal not only had our team members up to speed, we were versed enough in the new regulations to be able to provide a TRID hotline for others with questions and concerns.

When we say we want to be viewed as the best AMC in the industry; it is not all talk.  We work hard to make this happen and Training and Development is a strong part of that process.  Whether it is soft skills or industry knowledge, Class Appraisal is dedicated to inspiring each and every team member who is motivated to learn and grow.  There is no room for those who are not motivated.  With our training in place there is no excuse for “I can’t help you with that”.  We have an environment where learning and development are fostered; we ask and we research until we can provide you with what you need to know. You shouldn’t hear “I don’t know” for an answer when you call Class Appraisal.  Thanks to monthly training sessions our staff is equipped and eager to help you with anything you bring to the table.

-Susan Stirling – Training Specialist, Team Member Services