AXIS Chief Appraiser Addresses AMC Best Practices

Appraiser News
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Valuation Review Article | An Editorial by AXIS’ Chief Appraiser, Bill Waltenbaugh

There is the notion felt by many in the valuation industry that an AMC passes orders from the client, to an appraiser, then back to the client again, collecting half of the fees. This is not to suggest that these AMCs do not exist, but those that do are not under the umbrella of those who exercise best practices.


So what does an AMC exercising best practices do?


They spend a considerable amount of resources developing, vetting, and maintaining a nationwide panel,” AXIS Appraisal Management Services Chief Appraiser William Waltenbaugh told attendees of the Appraisal Summit and Expo in Las Vegas. “This includes monitoring and keeping up-to-date appraiser credentials and errors and omissions (E&O), while scrubbing appraisers against lender approval or do-not-use lists to ensure only those lender-approved appraisers are utilized.


Other considerations include accounting services, QC review, performance rating, and carrying out audits to assess qualifications and competency to complete different assignment types (SFR, 2-4 family, reviews, etc.). In addition, all communication between the client and appraiser needs to be filtered and managed to ensure appraiser independence every step of the way,” Waltenbaugh added.


The chief appraiser also suggests that AMCs should create a distinct and compliant firewall between the appraiser and a client’s loan production personnel by having dedicated staff and departments available to resolve value disputes factually and professionally, without pressuring or coercing the appraiser. AMCs who follow best practices do not have a dog in the value fight; rather, they are compensated for their service, not for the closing of a loan.


Communication is key in sorting out disagreements without coercion and within the confines of appraiser independence,” Waltenbaugh said. “A reviewer can’t change the value conclusion in the original appraisal. When an institution cannot resolve deficiencies with the appraiser, the institution must order an appraisal review performed by a competent state certified or licensed appraiser with a second opinion of market value, or obtain a second appraisal and adhere to a policy of selecting the most credible appraiser, rather than the appraisal that states the highest value.


Per TILA, the definition of appraiser independence states, “in conjunction with a covered transaction, no covered person shall or shall attempt to directly or indirectly cause the value assigned to the consumer’s principal dwelling to be based on any factor other than the judgement of a person that prepares valuations, through coercion, extortion, inducement, bribery, or intimidation of, compensation or instruction to, or collusion with a person that prepares valuations or performs valuation management functions.


Appraiser independence, according to Waltenbaugh, always has been a requirement and expectation in the appraisal process. But the mortgage meltdown of 2008 brought new light to the importance of appraiser independence, with the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) the first response over appraiser independence. HVCC was an agreement between then-New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that required the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) to institute new appraisal independence policies.


For many lenders, the use of an AMC was the easiest, quickest, and most cost-effective solution to comply with these new requirements,” Waltenbaugh said. To ensure appraiser independence, an institution must establish reporting lines independent of loan production for staff who administer the institution’s collateral valuation program. This includes appraiser selection, performance monitoring, and quality assessment as outlined by the Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines. 


An approved appraiser list, or do-not-use list, must have appropriate procedures for its development and administration that includes a compliant process for qualifying an appraiser for initial placement on the list,” Waltenbaugh added. “Periodic monitoring and an internal review of the use of the list is necessary to confirm that appropriate processes, procedures and controls exist to ensure independence in the development, administration, and maintenance of the list.


Additional lender responsibilities include reviews, resolving discrepancies and recognizing deficient appraisals. Many lenders use a risk-based approach in determining the depth of review necessary for an appraisal. AMCs can be beneficial when evaluating the level of review necessary, Waltenbaugh said. 


The question of why did the number of AMCs continued to increase also was addressed during Waltenbaugh’s presentation. He outlined that mergers of regional lenders created large nationwide lenders. When a lending institution has an internal appraisal department, staffing for market fluctuations can be nerve-racking, he said. If not prepared for a rapid increase in the marketplace, it can result in a loss of business.


Suddenly, there was great demand and reason for outsourcing the appraisal management process,” Waltenbaugh said. In response to this demand, many companies entered the AMC space with no history in valuation at all. Thus, numerous new AMCs sprung to life, many without the necessary capitalization, knowledge and resources to meet the task. This resulted in stories of incompetent appraisers traveling hundreds of miles to complete assignments for bottom-of-the-barrel wages. For some, this means poor and unprofessional service, subsequently giving the whole AMC industry a black eye.


However, outsourcing the appraisal management process to a best practicing AMC allows for valuation experts to manage appraisals across the nation and provide a layer of quality control. It not only reduces risk, but is also a good fiscal decision,” Waltenbaugh added.

AXIS May Newsletter


From Our Desk to Yours

An Editorial by Michael Simmons

Here’s an interview I did that appeared in Valuation Review in February. You might find it of interest…

A Louisiana appraisal management company, iMortgage Services, has been in the news with regards to the issue of customary and reasonable (C&R) fees. The AMC recently was saddled with a $10,000 fine for its failure to pay customary and reasonable fees to appraisers, the second AMC to be sanctioned by the state. iMortgage Services also must pay all adjudication costs and face a six-month suspension of its AMC license. The suspension is on hold under the conditions that the AMC pay all fines and costs by March 2016 and submit a plan of compliance for following the rules and regulations for determining C&R fees. If the conditions are met in a timely fashion, a six-month suspension will be lifted.

In Louisiana, AMCs are responsible for paying C&R fees in relation to the fees gathered when Louisiana held its fee study. In other states that have conducted fee studies, such as Texas or Utah, the story is the same. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is supposed to promulgate rules for what qualifies as C&R fees. Because it has yet to do so – although the issue has been on the CFPB’s rulemaking agenda for more than a year – what standards do AMCs have to follow in state which have not conducted their own fee studies?

It’s more of a process issue regarding customary and reasonable fees,” AXIS Senior Vice President Michael Simmons told Valuation Review. “According to the Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Coalition, iMortgage Services did not follow the prescribed state rules as mandated. While everyone is subject to federal laws and rules, the states do have the authority to adopt additional rules that can impose a greater burden. Some states, like Louisiana, have already put laws in place, but the industry hasn’t had to come face-to-face with the consequences – and consequence is a key issue here.

I am a big believer in the idea that people change when we are compelled to change,” Simmons added. “The event that happened in Louisiana should be seen as a warning. On the federal level, from rules issued by the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, appraisers are required to be paid a customary and reasonable fee for their service, but there is no statutory standard of how to determine what is customary and reasonable. That’s why states such as Louisiana, Kentucky, Georgia and others have gone through the process of studying fees to determine what C&R rates should be.” Simmons said if a state board gets a complaint from appraisers that they were not paid C&R fees, an AMC is called to explain how the C&R fee was determined.

The response, he said, usually is something like “well, we’ve been charging those fee amounts for years in your state and we know that is what they want.” Simmons, though, sees a problem with that response.

A particular state’s regulations may say something different,” he said. “The state may have required the usage of independent studies, government studies and often not permitted fees that AMCs have historically paid. That response of ‘We’ve always charged those fees’ can be viewed as inadequate and non-compliant and a violation by the AMC.

As for what iMortgage Services did, the Simmons wanted to make one point very clear. “What iMortgage did is what most businesses do in that they were accommodating their client,” Simmons said. “But you can’t do that if it violates state or federal laws. The unspoken part in all of this is that few are clear on what to do and who to hold accountable. Most businesses operates under the regime that until somebody imposes a consequence, we’ll go with the ‘law of large numbers,’ knowing they can make more on their current process than the amount that they will likely be fined. Some simply say ‘OK, we’re sorry; we won’t do it again’ and just bank the profit. But this perspective isn’t unique to the lending or appraisal industry.”

It’s arguable whether most AMCs know what all of the requirements are regarding customary and reasonable fees. It’s not only complicated, but the rules vary state by state, with more states each day weighing in with their own rule set. Maintaining an up-to-date understanding of a complex regulatory landscape taxes even those of us with the staffs and resources built to manage these issues.

The lender has the ultimate responsibility for seeing that C&R fees are paid because the AMC is acting on behalf of the lender when it is conducting an appraisal. That means lenders are supposed to conduct oversight of AMCs to ensure they are properly in compliance with state and federal regulations of appraisers, including whether C&R fees are being paid.

Dodd-Frank says that as an AMC, we are an extension of the lender,” Simmons said. “We’re acting on behalf of the lender with the lender being responsible for the AMCs behavior. In the Louisiana case, I’m certain the board’s finding will drive a change in behavior that will extend beyond their borders. I think too it’s inevitable that the specter of Dodd-Frank will find a way to ‘remind’ lenders where the responsibility lies regarding customary and reasonable fees, since it’s the lenders who ultimately set those fees. That will go a long way to curing the underlying problem.

Some lenders try to promote lower appraisal fees, suggesting that’s how you capture business. That’s ridiculous. Nobody captures business based on appraisal fees. In fact, you may lose business because in a world of scarce resources (i.e., a shrinking appraiser population), the best appraisers refuse to work for anything but reasonable fees.

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Who We Are

We are a team of real estate professionals who believe high quality appraisals delivered with expert service are critical to successful mortgage lending operations. AXIS provides clients with real estate appraisals completed by local, talented appraisers who are compensated well above industry standards. We link lenders to highly experienced local appraisers to complete AIR compliant appraisals. AXIS is supported by a staff with significant industry experience, and utilizes a team approach focused on customer service. Clients who partner with AXIS can rest assured that their appraisals drive the most profitable risk decisions, while maintaining strict quality control and compliance standards.

That is the AXIS Advantage.

For more information about AXIS please visit


AQC: Introducing an Awesome, Quick, Concise – Desktop Review

My name is Marc Kamyab and I’m a certified residential appraiser in the Los Angeles area. I like going to the movies, have a soft spot for animals and I’m addicted to gummy bears.

A couple months ago, I was contacted by AXIS to see if I’d be interested in participating in a test run for a new product they were launching — a review product called AQC or Appraisal Quality Compliance. I don’t know about you, but I’m typically skeptical of new appraisal products and have a general aversion to being an early adopter.

So…my initial reaction was, “quick, come up with something to get out of having to do this.” But I didn’t have the heart. After all, I’d been working with AXIS for almost 6 years and they’ve always been very good to me. Following a brief silence, I felt compelled to say yes. That afternoon I received my first batch of 10 and I was on my way to being an AQC Beta tester.

The next morning, I started with a couple orders and was surprised with the quickness and ease I was able to get through these assignments. The interface is clean and you don’t have to install any software. It’s all done in your web browser.

Over the next few days, I found myself squeezing in 1 or 2 here and there — whenever I had some down time. It was actually kind of nice to have something to fill in the gaps throughout the day. When a borrower called to reschedule an inspection, instead of sitting around with nothing to do the rest of the afternoon, I was able to sit in my home office and make some extra cash by completing a few of these assignments. By the end of the week, my test batch was done – and I wanted more!

There are a number of reasons why I think this is a great product and why I enjoyed completing them. When I gave AXIS my feedback, they were happy to hear about my positive experience and asked if I wouldn’t mind sharing. So…here we are.

What is AQC: Appraisal Quality Compliance?

AQC is a USPAP compliant desktop review product that allows you to review an appraisal and analyze the overall credibility and reliability of the methodology, analysis and opinions provided in the report. It does not ask that you state your own opinion of value or provide additional comparables. It’s not an appraisal, it’s simply a review to let the client know if an appraisal is reasonable and reliable.

Why I Think It’s a Great Product – The KISS Principle:

PURPLE KEEP IT SIMPLEKeep it simple, stupid is a design principle coined by John Kelley, lead engineer at Lockheed Skunk Works in the 1960’s. The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. Over the past 50 years, this principle has been used by the U.S. Air Force and is pretty much the rule of thumb in current software development.

AQC is simple and straightforward. It’s completed in 4 steps.

Step 1:

    • Is the material in the report complete and sufficient?
    • Is the market data in report adequate and relevant?
    • Is the analysis of the comparables reasonable?
    • Is the analysis and methodology in the report appropriate?
    • Are the opinions and conclusions in the report credible?
  • Then Rate the Following 3 Items (Low, Medium, High)
    • Complexity of Assignment
    • Availability of Comparables
    • Market Density

Step 2:

  • Lists the Following 3 Approaches to Value
    • Sales Comparison Approach
    • Cost Approach
    • Income Approach

All you need to do is check a box stating if these approaches to value were developed – and if not, whether they should have been. This is accompanied by a drop down next to each that states if these approaches to value appear reasonable, unreasonable or were adequately addressed if not developed.

  • Then, at the bottom of this page, you are asked to summarize the overall reasonableness and credibility of the report and assess its compliance with USPAP.

Step 3

  • Lists 2 Questions
    • Did the original appraisal note any appraisal assistance?
    • Did the original appraiser report any prior services within 3 years?
  • List subject’s sale/transfer history within 36 months of effective date.

Step 4

  • Grade the overall credibility and reliability of report with an “A, B, C, D or F”.
  • Have you performed services on subject within 3 years (Yes/No)?

And…you’re done!

How Long Does It Take?

Now, I was told that these assignments should take about 30 minutes. Honestly, they took me a bit longer. I found that the assignments I thought deserved an “A or B” typically took about 45 minutes. Those that had some issues and received a “C or D” about an hour and those that I felt were “F” reports up to an hour and a half. Throughout my initial Beta test of 10, I would say the average time I spent on an AQC assignment was about an hour.

To be fair, these assignments were new to me and the more I became accustomed to what I should be looking for and commenting on, the faster they went. It’s likely that with some more practice I could get my average time down to about 45 minutes.

Is the Fee Worth It?

This, for me is always the make it or break it criteria. Nobody wants to spend time on an assignment and make less money than they would if they were working on something else. When you factor in research and pulling comps, the inspection, shooting comp photos, the drive time and writing a report, I would say that it takes me an average of about 4 hours to complete a full appraisal.  If I were to complete 4 AQC assignments in the same 4 hours, I would actually end up making more money while never leaving my home office. So, is it worth it? Yes.

A Beneficial By-Product:

Completing these assignments also gave me new perspective. It allowed me to see how my peers were completing appraisal assignments, where they excelled and their shortcomings. In the following weeks, I realized that when completing my own appraisal reports, I found myself adding an extra comment or clarifying something that in the past I may have brushed over. I was able to see my own reports through the eyes of someone else. Someone who had not inspected the subject property, was not necessarily familiar with the neighborhood or nuances of the market area. Someone who would rely on my data and analysis to make an informed decision.

I didn’t know when I agreed to be an AQC Beta tester, that by completing these assignments – even a handful, I would become a better appraiser.

Should You Try It?

Yes! If you have a general aversion to new appraisal products like me, I would suggest you reconsider. If you’re on the fence about it…just give it a shot. It’s not much of a time commitment to start with 1 or 2 and see if this is something you enjoy.

Good luck and all the best!

To register for this product, please visit the appraiser registration page HERE where you can update and register your profile for future assignments. Please also visit our Vendor Center where sample reports and training documents are posted.


AXIS is blessed to have many employees coming from different backgrounds and ages. One day we posed the question: “What music reminds you of summer? You know, those lazy days spent by the water with the warm sun and an ice cold drink?”.

We were surprised by all the different responses. Some of them iconic, some we never even heard of.  So we thought we would compile an AXIS Summer Mixtape playlist so you can enjoy some summer music on the way to your inspections. See if you recognize what we chose.



  1. Kokomo – The Beach Boys [Jen Rosen, Quality Control]
  2. Buzzin’ – Shwayze [Kevin Graham, Account Executive]
  3. Las Ketchup (The Ketchup Song) – Asereje [Jacob Morosoff, Vendor Management]
  4. (Not Just) Knee Deep – Funkadelic [Katherine Morosoff, Vendor Management]
  5. Out Last Night – Kenny Chesney [Heidi Waltenabugh, Set Up]
  6. Little Big Town – Pontoon [Shelia McMillian, Staff Appraiser/Priscilla Velez, Accounting Supervisor]
  7. Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding [Shirley Johnson, Accounting]
  8. Time of Our Lives – Pitbull and Ne-Yo [Jasmine Shamsid-Deen, Set Up]
  9. Magic – The Cars [Sven Larson, Panel Management Specialist]
  10. The Boys Are Back in Town – Thin Lizzy [Jim Armstrong, Staff Appraiser]
  11. Dance The Night Away – Van Halen [Cristino Duran, Accounting]
  12. Ventura Highway – America [Andrea Langner, Account Executive]
  13. More Than A feeling – Boston [Justine Skull, Quality Control]
  14. Summertime Thing – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince [Rick Sagoo/Craig Mitchell, QC Appraisers]
  15. Jack & Diane – John Mellencamp [Blair Dingeman, Vendor Manager]
  16. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves [Patty Briggs, QC Appraiser]
  17. Drunk On You – Luke Bryan [Kym Caputo, QC Appraiser]
  18. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison [Carol Lee Klatt, QC Appraiser/Kevin Goike, QC Appraiser]
  19. Hot Fun in the Summertime – Sly & The Family Stone [Jay Ostlund, Staff Appraiser/Larry Stritch, CFO]
  20. Summer Vibe – Walk Off the Earth [Bill Waltenbaugh, Chief Appraiser]
  21. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynard Skynard [Leanne Malcher, Account Executive]
  22. Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams [Cristina Rounds, Compliance]
  23. The Boys of Summer – Don Henley [Kim Perotti, EVP/Matthew Simmons, Pipeline Operations Manager]
  24. It’s a Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo [Michael Simmons, SVP]
  25. Life is a Highway – Rascal Flatts [Kym Otto, Accounting]
  26. Beach Baby – The First Class [Jennifer Flambard, Corporate Support]
  27. Knee Deep – Zach Brown Band ft. Jimmy Buffett [Patti Gorman, QC Appraiser]
  28. No Way (Bassnectar Remix) – The Naked and Famous [Sophia Rossi, Operations]
  29. Summertime Thing – Chuck Prophet [Tom Voss, QC Appraiser]
  30. School’s Out – Alice Cooper [Don Besner, Staff Appraiser]

Enjoy the mixtape of AXIS and we hope your summer is filled with music, memories and sunshine!

Managing R and R


After a long cold winter everyone is looking forward to some well-deserved time off. Although the market is still hot, the battery is most likely a little low after several months of burning the midnight oil.

At AXIS we understand and encourage the practice of occasionally unplugging from the regular day-to-day schedule and taking some time to recharge and refresh. The benefits are numerous and proven. Lowering stress and increasing performance and productivity are just a few advantages recognized after taking a vacation.

That said, we also acknowledge how difficult it can be for some of our partners to get away. Let’s face it, we work in a highly competitive industry that rarely sleeps and time is of the essence. When something needs done, it typically needs done yesterday.

That’s why it is very important to implement a game plan to address unforeseen necessities in your business when you’re out of pocket. While most of our partners are very good at having a plan of action during this time, there are others that haven’t considered this important issue in anticipation of getting away. When this happens, it makes things extremely difficult for everyone involved. Let’s not forget, there are real people behind these assignments and they are managing timelines around one of the largest transactions of their lifetime. Talk about stress!

Below are a few examples of ways to address this concern:

  • Set your Mercury account to out of office so you don’t receive requests for additional work you know you will not be able to complete. You also need to consider when it is best to make this move. If you plan on totally disconnecting while away, you need to consider making this change up to two weeks prior to your departure.
  • Set up an out of office email that provides details regarding your time away and instruction on how to address concerns that can’t wait for your return to the office.
  • Partner with another appraiser in your area who you trust and can cover concerns as they arise. They should be able to contact you while you’re away so you can collaborate on solutions. While this will temporarily increase their workload, I’m sure you can arrange to return the favor.
  • Set aside some time while away to take care of emergency issues. While this isn’t ideal, many appraisers are mobile when it comes to where and how they work. With today’s technology, many appraisers can access and make necessary changes/corrections to reports from almost anywhere. I highly suggest you set a specific time aside to check email, messages, and address revision requests. Be sure to include these specifics in your out of office email. Click HERE for additional information about becoming mobile.
  • Communication, communication, communication. When all else fails, communication is key. Be transparent and clear regarding your plans and how items can be addressed while you’re away. Providing information and setting reasonable expectations goes a long way in managing these concerns.

I’m sure everyone agrees that completing an assignment and not being available to address post delivery concerns is unfair and inconsiderate to all who are relying on a timely completion of a transaction. However, a little planning and preparation goes a long way in managing acceptable expectations and elevating these potentially contentious situations.

AXIS Appraisal Update: Fannie Mae CU Rollout

Axis has been following the developments regarding Collateral Underwriter (CU) very closely since its announcement at MBA this past fall. In short, we have attended all of the available trainings and read all of the announcements regarding CU and have a comprehensive understanding of how it is expected to work. Please understand, CU is a process that is currently a Fannie Mae initiative that is separate from and does not include Freddie Mac or FHA assignments.

As you probably already know, once a report is submitted to UCDP, CU will generate an automated risk score along with proprietary risk flags and messages. Per Fannie Mae, the purpose of CU is to identify appraisals with heightened risk of property eligibility, compliance violations, overvaluation, and quality issues. Based on this information, lenders will be able to create more efficient resource allocation, workflow, and collateral risk management.

The risk scores assigned with appraisals will range from 1 to 5 with a 1 score indicating low risk and a 5 score reflecting high risk. Fannie Mae is quick to point out that a high score does not necessarily mean an appraisal is “bad”, nor does a low score necessarily mean an appraisal is “good”. They also make it very clear that CU isn’t intended to replace the lender’s review process or due diligence and shouldn’t solely be used as the basis for making a lending decision. Instead, the score should be used to triage workflow and allocate appropriate resources.

Fannie Mae will be able to bump the data contained in an appraisal report against their own proprietary “Big” database. Every report submitted through UCDP adds to the database all information reported about the subject along with all the information provided about the comparable properties used. The availability of this appraiser verified “Big Data” is the game changer. Fannie Mae can now compare an appraiser’s analysis against their peers’ analysis in the same market. Fannie Mae also keeps track of how consistent an appraiser is within their own reporting and provides feedback if inconsistencies are noted. 

Lenders will also have a User Interface (UI) that will allow them to compare the reasonableness of the comparable properties used in a report by comparing them to up to 20 other sales in the area. This accomplished by scoring all available properties to the subject based on physical similarity, time, and distance. In fact, it is very possible their database will be better than any other data source  since all properties in their database are scrubbed and verified by other appraisers in the market. If, based on the CU model, other sales are identified as being better than the sales used in the appraisers report, this information will be provided to the lender for consideration to action as they see appropriate – do a deeper dive into these sales personally or send them to the appraiser to consider and comment.

If Axis submits to UCDP on a lenders behalf, we will receive, via the returned SSR, Fannie’s assigned risk score and a uniform thumbnail overview of each message and risk flag triggered. While the risk score is clear cut with a grade from 1 – 5, the messages and risk flags may not be that clear without access to the UI (available only to lenders) which is required in many cases to interpret the specifics of the message. For messages that are clear cut, Axis can immediately start working with the appraiser to correct or provide more information regarding the concern if it hasn’t already been addressed through our own AQI report. In addition, based on the information returned, Axis will continue to refine AQI to proactively address all concerns prior to delivery. However, since not all messages are understandable without the additional information provided by the lender only accessible UI, it might be better for us to wait on any additional request you might have for the appraiser before we request known revisions or additional information concerns. In short, this is a process we need to work out with our client to determine how we should proceed.

AQC: Introduction to Appraisers

Regulatory compliance; an ominous concept to ponder, particularly amongst the heightened regulatory environment, which has ensued in the wake of the “Great Recession”. Yet the fact of the matter is that this term or concept, foreboding as it may be, presents a new opportunity for appraisers to prosper. In recent years, many states have instituted rules and regulations governing the operations of AMCs procuring appraisals for federally related transactions. Within these rules and regulations, several states have dictated specific and mandatory periodic audit requirements for AMCs to ensure the quality of the appraisals produced by their panels, as well as the appraisals’ accordance with minimum USPAP Standards. Translation – AMCs need to develop defensible compliance protocols, and this need creates an opportunity for appraisers to engage in new assignment types, diversify their businesses, and assert the demand for appraisers as licensed or certified real estate valuation experts. Axis Appraisal Management Solutions is seizing this opportunity with the advent of our Appraisal Quality Compliance (AQC) report.

In short, AQC is a proprietary USPAP Standard 3 compliant desk review product designed to meet or exceed various state AMC audit requirements. AQC does not provide a value conclusion; AQC does not opine on the value conclusion of the appraisal under review; AQC is not an appraisal. OK so what is AQC? AQC is a qualitative desk review intended to evaluate the accuracy, reasonableness, and overall credibility of an appraisal’s analysis and conclusions, and score an appraisal based on a very straightforward scholastic grading system; i.e. A, B, C, D, or F.

Of course the obvious question is often raised; “how do I evaluate the credibility of an appraisal without opining on the value conclusion?” While value is a key component of a traditional appraisal utilized for loan origination, it is but one of several conclusions derived from the appraiser’s analysis of the subject and its competitive market as of the valuation date. There are a multitude of data points, assumptions, and analyses reported throughout a given appraisal which coalesce in a reconciliation and ultimately a value conclusion. In this sense, the appraisal process and the value conclusion can be differentiated; AQC’s core focus is to evaluate the process or methodology employed in developing the appraisal report’s overall conclusions. For those familiar with typical Field Review work, the traditional Fannie Mae Form 2000/Freddie Mac Form 1032 has 10 questions on the first page of the form; the first 9 questions relate to accuracy, methodology, process while only the 10th question addresses value. While the scope of AQC is more limited than traditional review work, the underlying premise and emphasis on the development process should not be foreign to appraisers accustomed to appraisal review.

Understanding the context in which AQC may be utilized is also important in understanding its limited scope. In general terms, compliance standards seek to ensure AMCs not only deliver credible and reliable appraisals, but have systematic issue resolution and panel management measures in place as well. Within this context, AQC represents an integral part of a larger process aimed at preserving and promoting sound appraisal practices. The AQC report serves as an issue spotting function either corroborating the analysis and methodology of a given appraisal or identifying material deficiencies which undermine the overall credibility and reliability of the appraisal which may necessitate further due diligence. In the event an appraisal is found to be deficient within the scope of an AQC analysis, the AQC is not intended to represent the final word on the matter, but rather alert the intended user that an expanded examination of the subject appraisal may be necessary.

Another obvious and frequent inquiry; “how much work is involved…what do I have to do to complete an AQC?” As with any appraisal work, the short answer is, “it depends”. However, AQC is a streamlined process conceptualized by appraisers and mortgage industry veterans with the design implemented by a seasoned crew of developers with expertise in real estate valuation applications. Future posts will deal with what AQC entails from start to finish and typical time requirements in more comprehensive fashion, however, in the meantime, suffice it to say we believe we have created a win-win for appraisers and AMCs. Appraisers enjoy the convenience of working from wherever they so choose whether it be home, office or local coffee shop, and AMCs get the benefit of local expertise to satisfy their compliance demands and strengthen their quality assurance protocols.

If AQC is of interest to you and your appraisal business, please visit for additional information on the product, as well as our contact and panel registration information. And stay tuned for future posts on AQC for some more in depth discussions on the product.

AXIS Guide to Our 2015 Appreciation Party

If you haven’t already heard, Axis is planning a big party at the beginning of next year. And here’s the best part, you’re our guest of honor. At Axis we recognize and understand that without our valued clients and dedicated panel of appraisers, our success and growth would not be possible. Without our clients we have no purpose and without our valuation partners we have no product. For this reason, we invite you to be our guest for the day on Friday January 23rd, 2015 for an opportunity to meet face-to-face and allow us to appreciate your hard work and dedication. And if one day isn’t enough, we have continuing education available Saturday morning… but not too early!

So what do we have planned? I’m glad you asked. The day begins early with an open house starting at 9am at our headquarters in San Rafael. But don’t get to comfortable because we have a few small informative but interactive sessions starting at 10am. In the first session you can learn about AQI and how it makes Axis quality control one of the best in the business. In the same session we will also discuss a new and exciting product called AQC, which is Axis’ proprietary Standard 3 desktop compliance review. Immediately following that session we will bring everyone up to speed on our latest alternative valuation product – GEAR. And if you haven’t had enough, we would love for you to join us in discussing the latest developments in Fannie Mae’s Collateral Underwriter (CU). Remember, these meetings are interactive so do your homework (if you want) and bring your questions. We can’t wait to hear your feedback and try to answer your questions. If you plan on attending our Friday Open House and/or attend one of the small group sessions please RSVP with a ticket HERE. See below for break out session detailed schedule:

At high noon we invite our valuation partners that are interested in Continuing Education to join me back at the Embassy Suites for four hours of CE where we will dive head first into the Appraisal Institute (AI) developed course “Unraveling the Mysteries of Fannie Mae Guidelines”. By the end of class we should all have a better understanding of Fannie Mae’s guidelines, gain some tips on how to stay current with changes, and even call out some of the misconceptions about the guidelines. Last I checked this AI course is approved for 4 hours of CE in most states with exception to my own– New York. To be safe, be sure to check the AI website for state approvals. However, I can confirm that CA and AZ made the cut. Please note there is a small fee of $50 to participate in this offering – what a bargain! To purchase tickets click HERE.

After listening to me drone on for four hours about Fannie Mae Guidelines, I’m sure everyone will be more than ready to relax with their favorite beverage and some tasty food. Well good news, Axis is inviting everyone to join us at Classic Billiards for food, drinks, pool, music, and conversation between 4pm and 8pm. And here is the best part – it’s all on us! Yes really… you deserve it. To RSVP to our Appreciation Party at Classic Billiards in San Rafael, please register for a ticket HERE.

green learningBut that’s not it. For the diehards in the group, we have one more event planned. At 10am Saturday morning we will be providing four more hours of CE at the Embassy Suites. While 10am is early for a Saturday, it’s a lot better than the standard starting time of most CE courses. So get up and get downstairs to learn about Green Energy Appraising. Did you know, per FHA, an appraiser must note which “energy efficiency building component” features are installed in a house and calculate whether and how each component affects the value of the property? In a recent exposure draft from The Appraisal Foundation’s Appraisal Practices Board (APB) it was stated that appraisers might fail to observe green features in the appraisal because they either do not know how to address them, or simply fail to note their existence, potentially resulting in an error of omission. Many green characteristics are virtually invisible on a typical inspection, such as high-performance glazing, above-standard insulation, energy-efficient lighting, motion- and daylight-responsive lighting controls, or an advanced building automation/management system (BAS/BMS). Competent appraisers can be expected to know what to look for and what questions to ask to avoid missing relevant features.

This 4 hour continuing education course introduces participants to the concepts behind building beyond code, emphasizing an understanding of and familiarity with the primary high performance certifications (both green and energy efficiency) being adopted by the market. In short, at a price of just $50, you can’t afford to miss this one. In fact, it is a great first step in becoming recognized on Axis panel as a Green and Energy Efficient expert. Although not yet confirmed, we are confident this offering will be approved for 4 hours of CE in both CA and AZ. Sorry; it isn’t going to be approved in any other states. To purchase tickets click HERE.

Well that’s it, a full day and a half of learning, networking, and fun. We sure hope you can make it because together we’re better.