Chris Cunningham, VP of Business Development at ValueLink Software, discusses how the pandemic has impacted how lenders handle the valuation process

COVID-19 continues to deliver a new normal. Today we’re talking with Chris Cunningham, vice president of business development at ValueLink Software, about one of the most important but often overlooked aspects of the loan process: valuations.

Before COVID-19 hit, the mortgage industry was chugging along, managing valuations the old-fashioned way, using outdated forms and technologies. But then COVID arrived and the cracks became visible. Interest rates dropped to an all-time low and lenders and valuation companies were not prepared to effectively handle the surge in volumes.

Now, as we close in on one year of COVID consequences, priorities are shifting towards adopting new technology to drive efficiency in the valuation process and handle large volumes. We asked Chris to tell us about the biggest challenges that lenders have faced with the valuation process during the pandemic.

Here’s what he had to say:

 

Automation of the Valuation Process

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for lenders to boost their automation capabilities to manage large volumes, turn times and cost to originate loans.

With the influx of mortgage and refinancing applications, some lenders are taking longer than usual to close faster. Through automation, lenders have managed to simplify the order management and have reduced the touch-points between various stakeholders, while ensuring regulatory compliance.

Automation has empowered lenders to effectively take ownership of the entire process, thus giving them more control and visibility. They have been able to reduce operating costs, elevate service, reduce errors, speed up the appraisal process and create a more interactive and better communication channel.

Embracing a Remote Working Culture

With the onset of the pandemic, lenders have been forced to embrace a remote working culture. The shift has proven to be a challenging one as not only are their workflows not digitized but also, they are unable to provide the technical support, hardware access (laptops) and an efficient communication channel to their workforce.

Embracing modern valuation management technology can help ease these pains as it enables centralizing workflows, effective communications with vendors and end-to-end automation with less manual input.

Enabling Homeowner Inspections

Earlier this year, the GSE’s provided some flexibility for appraisals and appraisers were able to collect interior property data with the assistance of property owners and virtual inspections.

To comply with the new guidelines and ensure the safety of valuation professionals, lenders have been required to think outside the box and implement innovative solutions that not only get the job done but also avoid risks of fraud, reduce errors and keep the consumer’s convenience in mind.

Building Effective and Reliable Vendor Panels

The surge in volume of valuation transactions have resulted in an unprecedented level of stress on the valuation industry. With valuation professionals in short supply, order turn times are now running into months in certain markets which result in a major delay in the closing process.

By utilizing modern and data-centered vendor panel management platforms, lenders can build a highly skilled and effective vendor panel that ensures timely delivery of valuation reports which in turn result in faster closings.

The pandemic has highlighted the challenges that lenders still face today in offering a unified and efficient digital mortgage process. With valuations accounting for a significant chunk of the time it takes to close a loan, it is imperative that lenders adopt embrace modern technology to stay ahead of the curve.

By leveraging automation, artificial intelligence and data analytics, lenders can deliver a cohesive customer experience. The time is now to turn adversity into opportunity and position yourself at the forefront of change in the mortgage industry.

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