There's More to Appraisal Management Than Just Ordering

by Ashley Jelinek, CEO

For decades, lenders have relied on appraisal management companies (AMCs) to compliantly deliver accurate property valuations and to act as a “firewall”, preventing interested parties from exerting pressure on appraisers. 

The existence of AMCs has enabled lenders to expand their geographic footprints into new markets and has added significant efficiency for both lenders and appraisers. Over the past few years, appraisal ordering software and platforms have come to market to automate parts of this process, particularly ordering, tracking and delivering appraisals. Our company uses some of this technology, as do some of our lender clients. 

Over time, will these platforms and new technology reduce the need for AMCs? Perhaps. But when you fully appreciate the value and service that the AMC model offers, a more likely outcome is that lenders will rely on both AMCs and tech platforms, because they complement each other. 

So why do lenders actually need an AMC partner? 


Customized & Personalized Service

At the heart of every successful lending partnership lies personalized service – the human interaction with your partner that fosters trust and confidence, and becomes invaluable when issues arise, as they always will in complicated transactions.

At CSS, we understand our clients’ business models, corporate cultures and individual preferences. We know their geographic markets, risk tolerances, their pricing requirements and how they like to consume information.

We work with our lender partners to customize their panel of appraisers by county, property type, priority and percent of orders. Because we know our customers, we know the nuances of their orders, including everything from appraiser preferences for unique or high-end properties to customized communication guidelines to specific appraisal review requirements. When it comes time to assign an appraiser to an order, we consider several factors such as the appraiser’s average turn time, responsiveness, quality, workload, geographic competency and certifications. The personal touch offered by an AMC partner ensures a seamless and tailored experience on every appraisal order that technology alone cannot replicate.

Expertise & Insight

While technology can provide data-driven insights, it is the human expertise behind the data that truly adds value. At CSS, our team of seasoned professionals have an average of 10 years of industry experience. Their deep understanding of local markets, legal and regulatory requirements and industry trends enable them to provide invaluable insights that go beyond mere numbers. We have on-staff appraisers who are equipped to deal with complex appraisal issues and provide support to our customers. Whether it’s identifying hidden property risks or offering recommendations based on market conditions, the expertise of AMC professionals enriches the appraisal process and empowers lenders to make informed decisions.

 Effective Communication

Communication is the cornerstone of any successful partnership, and AMCs excel in this aspect. Unlike automated systems that may lack the ability to comprehend nuanced queries or provide personalized responses, AMC professionals offer clear and concise communication tailored to the needs of lenders. They also interact on a professional-to-professional level with the appraisers which produces better results. Our team doesn’t just provide automated email requests and updates to appraisers, we are able to follow up with them personally because we have those existing relationships that allow us to rush an order or work through issues. 

Problem Solving Abilities

When it comes to real estate transactions, unforeseen challenges are inevitable. It is during these times that the problem-solving abilities of AMC professionals truly excel. At CSS we have an internal escalation team that gives any delayed orders the focus and attention they need. We contact the appraiser at least daily on any delayed orders, working closely with them to prioritize these orders and to resolve any issues. We also provide our lender customers with daily status updates on these orders.

In an industry where appraisal revision rates can range from 20 to 40%, depending on the lender, our team works proactively with the appraiser to identify needed revisions prior to the report being delivered to our customers. As a result, CSS is able to maintain revision rates well below 5%. Without an AMC, the lender’s staff would have to work directly with the appraiser: tracking them down, playing phone and email tag; guiding them through the revision process—all the manual interaction that an AMC takes off the lender’s plate

Adjust to Market Cycles

By partnering with an AMC, lenders gain the flexibility to navigate market fluctuations without the burden of constant staffing adjustments. During periods of high demand, an AMC partner can swiftly scale up operations to handle increased appraisal orders, ensuring timely processing without overstretching the lender’s internal resources. Conversely, in markets with lower volume, like the one we’re in at the moment, the AMC can efficiently scale down, preventing unnecessary overhead costs. This relationship not only streamlines operations but also optimizes costs, enabling lenders to focus on their core competencies while confidently adapting to market dynamics.


Final Thoughts

While technology undoubtedly plays a pivotal role in streamlining the lending process, it is the human element and deep industry expertise that truly sets AMCs apart. From personalized service and expertise to effective communication, problem-solving abilities, and trustworthiness, AMCs offer a range of benefits that go beyond what technology alone can provide. By partnering with an AMC, lenders not only gain access to cutting-edge tools and technologies but also benefit from the invaluable human touch that enriches the lending experience and drives success.

Learn more about CSS Appraisal Management to accelerate your mortgage process today.

Ashley is the CEO of CSS and oversees all aspects of the company’s strategy and operations.

Corporate Settlement Solutions is a single-source provider of real estate title, closing, valuation, flood and recording solutions. 

Our team is highly engaged in delivering results that make our customers more efficient, effective, and profitable.

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