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Three-year-old San Francisco real estate data company HouseCanary has announced the formal launch of AgileAppraisal, a new property evaluation tool for lenders, investors and rental property operators.
The product has been in beta for the last several months.
AgileAppraisal allows local property inspectors and appraisers to use HouseCanary’s data and market analytics to augment the accuracy and efficiency of their evaluations. It’s intended primarily for portfolio valuations, non-conforming loans and HELOC (home equity line of credit) scenarios, not Fannie or Freddie-supported products.
A browser-accessible dashboard allows users to place and manage orders, which are relayed to a local inspector for an initial overview of the subject property.
Several features provide for documentation of the appraisal process, including time-stamped photos, geo-tagging and alerts as each step gets completed, allowing large portfolio managers to monitor the progress of multiple simultaneous projects.
The inspection gets routed to an independent appraiser whose opinion is combined with HouseCanary’s market analytics. Final reports show up in the dashboard within five days.
The timing of AgileAppraisal’s launch comes at a time when the real estate industry is struggling with a severe decline in appraisal process efficiency, a direct result of fewer state-licensed appraisers, according to a report by Sheryl Pardo of the Urban Institute.
Responding to an article on Housingwire, a number of appraisers sounded off in the comments section suggesting that the industry’s issues are not a result of fewer appraisers. Collectively, they claim the sources of inefficiency as bad business practices and resistance to raise pay on the part of appraisal management companies (AMCs).
HouseCanary relies on a network of AMCs to deliver AgileAppraisal.
Regardless of the reason, AgileAppraisal will have to contend with the muddled appraisal process in some form. How does AgileAppraisal plan to deliver a finished report in five days, for example? I called them to chat about it.
“It’s about streamlining the process so appraisers can focus on only valuation,” said Tiffany Yang, principal product manager of HouseCanary. “We’re pre-filling reports for them, providing data they don’t have at their fingertips.”
Specifically, AgileAppraisal removes the tedious manual processes that typically slow appraisers, such as photographing comps, compiling maps, and entering redundant property and demographic data.
The property inspector and HouseCanary’s existing data resources combine to accelerate the appraiser to a point where she or he need merely another 20 to 30 minutes to complete the appraisal. At that point, I was told, they’re focusing only on valuation, not facts and figures or frustrating paperwork. The result is a faster, highly dependable appraisal.
Still, the appraisal industry’s issues aren’t rooted in a lack of good information, it’s about a lack of people.
“We believe that this can be something that appraisers can do after their regular day, as a way to make extra money. It’s much easier for them this way,” Yang said.
Martin Morzynski, HouseCanary’s CMO, told me the intent is to create the Amazon of the appraisal industry. “They can order it, track it at each step and watch it through completion,” he said.
“Along with streamlining the process, a big part of our value add,” Morzynski noted, “is the data presentation.”
The final reports are compliant with USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraiser Practice) and FIRREA (The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989).
The company has already proven its ability to understand the dynamics of real estate pricing. HouseCanary’s algorithms churn tens of thousands of price indices while perpetually processing countless real estate market and consumer behaviors to ensure the most current and granular pricing information. It boasts major industry names as customers and closed $31 million in Series B funding last week.
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.