During the first week of each New Year, I review what happened in the last. I reflect on what we have accomplished as a company, and in which direction I think we are going. I literally take out all of my notes, my calendar and trip summaries, and look day by day at the entire year. My process takes a week, and is something that provides more insight than any other reflective process I have ever tried.
Last year was one of great uncertainty. There were many changes in legislation and a true questioning of where the industry might be heading. After going through all of the articles I downloaded in Evernote month by month on UCDP, Dodd-Frank, CFPB, qualified mortgages and a host of other new issues, to say we as a company and an industry have been through a lot of change would be an understatement. Along with customary and reasonable fees and third party oversight, there have been a host of uncertainties in the marketplace. Yet one thing is certain amid this change- CoesterVMS has successfully navigated through all of it. Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”. The companies that are still doing well in this industry have not only proven they can adapt, but also shown they can flourish in an ever changing marketplace. CoesterVMS has proved to be among these companies.
The reality is that the current administration has made it very clear they want a fully regulated financial marketplace. Similar to the securities and exchange act of 1934, which brought a host of legislation to Wall Street unlike anything the industry had seen at that point, the same is true today. Many of the original laws in that act were repealed or replaced over time, and I foresee a similar course of action with the current CFPB, Dodd Frank and other legislation as time moves on. In the meantime, however, we must deal with the reality at hand.
History has shown time and again that it does repeat itself. As there were many people who opposed the Security and Exchange act of 1934, there are many people who oppose the current regulations. In my research, I was able to find two letters written by bankers during that earlier time about the SEC act of 1934. One of the letters was deeply for it, and the other was deeply against it. These letters prove that times have really not changed. As they say, the farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see. If you look at the history of the United States coming out of the Great Depression, as well as our recently struggling economy, it is very easy to see where the industry is heading.
People ask me all the time, “Do you know what’s going to happen to the industry in 2013?” The reality is that I do have a very clear vision of where we need to go as a company and where the industry is going as a whole; it is simply opportunity mixed with difficulty. Rather than trying to fight the wind, it is better to adjust the sails. Rough seas make good sailors, and right now the best industry sailors are able to navigate the mortgage and appraisal marketplace like no one has ever done before.
At the helm of Coester, I could not be more excited about the challenges that await us. We have a fantastic team of dedicated people that ensure that these challenges are met with the highest attention to quality. Our employees, consultants, vendors and board members are also working tirelessly to ensure that we have everything we need as a company to be ready for a sound new year for our clients and appraisers.
Here are some changes to be excited about in 2013:
- Full CFPB Compliance - We are releasing a host of compliance updates unlike ones that have ever been developed before. While extremely in-depth, some highlights include an entire audit and compliance suite as well as extensive enhancements for vendor management, appraisal quality control, on-sight audit assistance, appraisal competency scoring, mandatory reporting, customary and reasonable fees, vendor training, client training and disciplinary actions to name a few.
- Unprecedented Appraisal Quality Control - In April, we released the highly successful and used cData. This year we are going to release a process that will change the way appraisals are reviewed forever and set a new standard for quality control. We will provide real-time MLS data, previous appraisal data and real-time quality control metrics on every report. An underwriter will be able to affirm that the appraisal is accurate based on statistics from hundreds of other appraisals done around the property that are similar to the subject. They will be able to view comparables from other reports and compare the selection to the subject. Finally, they will be able to pull real-time MLS data and view listing, previous sales and contracts from the neighborhood. They will have 100% confidence in their report. Above all, we will not charge any additional fees for this innovative technology. As time goes on, this technology will become even more inexpensive to produce. In the future, you can look forward to increased value at the same exact cost or less.
- Faster Service - In 2012, we were able to take our average turnaround time from 8 days to 6.4 days. In 2013, our goal is to get our turnaround time under 5.9 total days for full inspection reports. We are going to push the realm of what is possible.
- Free Realtor Training For Our Clients - Every month we train over 500 Realtors on topics such as Inside the Mind of the Appraiser and Preparing your Home for an FHA Appraisal, in addition to a host of other topics. These training sessions are free for our clients and are designed to bridge the comfort gap with CoesterVMS and your Realtor partners. Our sessions also provide you with a means to help grow your business by developing stronger partnerships. For more information, please contact LHite@coestervms.com
- Account Manager Visits – Going forward, our Account Managers will spend two days per month visiting clients and getting direct feedback from the people they support on a daily basis. While I will not stop my visits, we now offer these additional visits as an add-on to ensure the best professional relationship and Coester-mer service.
- Flat Fee Schedule Nationally - As of Jan 1, 2013 we will be begin moving toward a flat fee schedule nationwide. Simply $450 for a conventional appraisal, and $475 for an FHA appraisal with no fee increases.
- The Best Customer Service - CoesterVMS is 100% staffed by appraisers and mortgage professionals. We have been very serious about achieving this goal because we want people that have had the same experience struggling to get a file closed or a condition cleared at the end of the month managing the appraisal process. When we made the shift to this policy, we saw a significant improvement in the overall customer experience and level of satisfaction. As a result, we have created a Raving Fan book highlighting all the great reviews we received in 2012. Please be sure to request your own copy, and send many raving fans in 2013 to ensure your spot in 2013’s end-of-year edition.
I was visiting with a customer last week and they said, “Brian, every month I come back and you guys just keep getting better and better, and are starting to outpace the appraisal industry and competitors. We are to the point that if we used anyone but you, we would be at a clear disadvantage.”
I look forward to seeing you throughout 2013 during visits, conferences and events. Thank you for being a Coester-Mer.