a la mode Pulling a Facebook Privacy Play

CoreLogic’s a la mode is Pulling a Facebook Privacy PlayOne of the tactics of Facebook has long been to “cross the line and apologize” rather than “ask permission.” Now that “A la mode has been acquired, by CoreLogic” the company with a 50% market share of the industry seems to be employing this tactic.

We have been A La Mode users for a decade. Heck, I even appeared on their homepage and in their marketing materials to attest to our firm’s belief in the product. But that was before Dave Biggers sold the company and our belief in the product was replaced with suspicion.

Rightly so. In a routine update to our software, we saw that A La Mode inserted a checkbox in our preferences without advanced notice – the software allows you to see other appraisers’ data attached to a specific comp record. You populate the address and all the information is inserted using other appraiser’s data. And guess what, the other appraisers can see yours!

a la mode SmartExchange Settings

And it gets better. You can subscribe for a fee and get all your competitors data (assuming they subscribe) and you sign away all your rights to it.

SmartExchange terms

This seems to acknowledge that we own our information because we have to sign away our rights, something appraisers have believed since forever but lenders and AMCs haven’t been on board and simply take it and use it (think FNC).

Industry feedback

Here is the best of the random appraiser feedback I read on this new development (made anonymous).

NO, NOT SMART AT ALL! Appraisers cannot make a decision on behalf of ALL clients they’ve done work for. They are asking for big, really big problems if a client clearly didn’t want the analysis or any portion of the analysis given to anyone. This is another attempt from Corelogic to obtain data they have no rights to. Although, in multiple appraiser shops many of the owners and or managers have already accepted this agreement on behalf of all the appraisers utilizing the software which now puts the associates performing the appraisal(s) in jeopardy. No matter how big a shop you work with or for, you (the individual appraiser) are legally responsible for what you produce and safeguard. Corelogic cannot take the data you analyzed and produced a product for your client and create a derivative product to pass around to other appraisers or potential third parties.

Here is one other issue with this “Smart Exchange” product. At a minimum (without consideration of Corelogics roll in the process) this is what happens. “Joe appraiser is doing an appraisal and Smart Exchange indicates that a “Peer” appraiser has utilized a comparable or even may have appraised a comparable which Joe appraiser wishes to use in his report. “Peer” appraiser rates this property at a C-3, but Joe appraiser thinks its thinks it’s a solid C-4. But because the fear of UCDP compliance issues and fear of having to answer a rebuttal request, Joe changes his rating to match that of the “Peer” appraiser. This in no way passes the USPAP smell test for confidentiality or impartiality. Plus Joe appraiser utilized the “Peer” appraisers photo which could have been the wrong property anyway.

How stupid do you have to be anyway. You pay through the nose for software, subscriptions, appraisal portal fees, insurance, gas, paper, computers, phones and whatever else you need to provide a great product, and in the end you would give it all away so that some big data grabbing company (which you bought the appraisal software from) can sell as “Confirmed” data to eventually put you out of business or at a minimum reduce the appraisal assignment pool to you and many up and coming appraiser. Why would you want to take that chance, makes no sense to me. Maybe not this year or even five years down the road. But eventually appraisers and the public will suffer greatly when all loans will be standardized to one valuation product. Okay, a few of you are going to argue that the physical appraisal assignment will never go away completely. Your right, custom homes or unique construction we will always have arround. But take a look in your market area and tell me how many new Tract home subdivisions (this is even those custom home tracts) are popping up all over. Simply put; Corelogic DID NOT WORK for that data, they are not providing it to you as a compliment to their software or they would have offered to sell it to you. They are TAKING IT from you… They have no legal rights to it, so don’t give it away.

Appraisers need to THINK (hate to say most are not) about this. If the Lender/Clients data along with the product we produced was not to be closely guarded. Then there would be no laws or regulations about how we handle this information and Corelogic wouldn’t be asking in such a extremely exclusive statement which they want you to agree to on behalf of your clients. Others may say, Yeah but what about those other third parties which we subscribe to that give us information about properties which were appraised by others within that subscription service. Well that pretty simple also. The information provided by those other third party subscriptions are not providing information that can’t be obtained from public records. It all about your data you analyzed to produce a product. Primarily at this time, your quality and condition ratings or any ratings and analysis which may show up and can’t be obtained from public records.

Not so sure what’s so hard to understand about our responsibility.

See below and pay particular attention to “Assignment Results”. Assignment results include how you evaluated and produced your comparable data to come up with the appraised value.

USPAP Confidentiality excerpt:

CONFIDENTIALITY: An appraiser must protect the confidential nature of the appraiser-client relationship. 12 An appraiser must act in good faith with regard to the legitimate interests of the client in the use of confidential information and in the communication of assignment results.

An appraiser must be aware of, and comply with, all confidentiality and privacy laws and regulations applicable in an assignment.

An appraiser must not disclose: (1) confidential information; or (2) assignment results to anyone other than: • the client; • parties specifically authorized by the client; • state appraiser regulatory agencies; • third parties as may be authorized by due process of law; or • a duly authorized professional peer review committee except when such disclosure to a committee would violate applicable law or regulation.

An appraiser must take reasonable steps to safeguard access to confidential information and assignment results by unauthorized individuals, whether such information or results are in physical or electronic form.

An appraiser must ensure that employees, co-workers, sub-contractors, or others who may have access to confidential information or assignment results, are aware of the prohibitions on disclosure of such information or results.

A member of a duly authorized professional peer review committee must not disclose confidential information presented to the committee.

Comment: When all confidential elements of confidential information and assignment results are removed through redaction or the process of aggregation, client authorization is not required for the disclosure of the remaining information, as modified

Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller

President & CEO at Miller Samuel Inc.
Jonathan Miller is President and CEO of Miller Samuel Inc., a real estate appraisal and consulting firm he co-founded in 1986. He is a state-certified real estate appraiser in New York and Connecticut, performing court testimony as an expert witness in various local, state and federal courts.
Jonathan Miller

Latest posts by Jonathan Miller (see all)

Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller is President and CEO of Miller Samuel Inc., a real estate appraisal and consulting firm he co-founded in 1986. He is a state-certified real estate appraiser in New York and Connecticut, performing court testimony as an expert witness in various local, state and federal courts.

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20 Responses

  1. JC says:

    Thanks for the heads up Jonathan. Just checked my settings and sure enough smartexchange was checked. My subscription is ending in December and I will be switching to another software. Any recommendations?

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    • Koma says:

      Yes please! Is there any recommendations which program is similar and as easy as Ala Mode? I wish to switch myself because that is the only way this stuff (being polite) is going to stop.

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      • Jack Of All Trades says:

        I was looking into homeputer …..thank god my service with alamode will be ending in a few days

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        • Mike Ford Mike Ford says:

          Diane N. here on AB speaks highly of it. I didn’t get far enough into it to really have a good idea. I’m VERY IMPRESSED by the software owner’s direct support.

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  2. Lori Noble says:

    #corelexit2018!

    Risks:  cyber-security, privacy, cost of data, regulatory changes and no accountability. Housing seems less a supply and demand factor as we once knew and becoming more a product of the banking system each and every day.

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  3. Great work Jonathan,

    I contract to perform appraisals for specific clients for specific purposes and uses. Nothing else. My BASE fee has been $450 for years until this past year when I increased it to $550 (FNMA, non complex, full appraisal reported on form 1004).

    ANY other service costs more money. IF I were to knowingly contract with the client to allow the ADDITIONAL use of them or their agents using any, all or portions of my competed professional appraisal work product as reported in the form, I would double the fee since it is now being used for two unrelated business purposes.

    Additionally, I would never allow my data to be used for or by a service that specifically uses to create, modify or enhance products designed to compete with my professional services to the detriment of my business and profession. THAT is something that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals identified when they found that CoreLogics subsidiary FNC STOLE appraisers data after promising them data security.

    FNC stole data. We now know FNMA also stole data. Alamode is delving into individuals own personal databases in order to even offer (unsolicited) “the best’ (their words) comparable data available. Even competitors of CoreLogics REALAVM such as Clarocity (of ZAIO infamy) claim to have data bases with ‘millions of appraisers data’ including adjustments for certain items. Between Corelogic and First American virtually ALL MANDATORY upload systems for submitting loans to GSEs such as FNMA; or FHA and VA are owned by monopolies that cannot be side stepped and which have the ability via xml or env formats to data mine appraisers confidential work products in order to steal data they have not paid for.

    Worse, they charge appraisers an upload fee for the privilege of having their data stolen within these mandatory systems (Mercury and appraisalport).

    Instead of wasting time with the State of Louisiana, FTC should be investigating Corelogic and First American!

    I believe there is a potential $10B to $13+ billion class action suit here if one assesses a normal full fee for each report involuntarily stolen and used by CoreLogic / FNC; FNMA, First American and/or Mercury for the past seven plus years. Not long ago FHFA cited over 30 million appraisals in the FNMA database where less than half were unique or solo appraisals.

    30M x $450 each = $13.5B. It would be fun to be able to subpoena ALL the players upload statistics to get the true number of stolen appraisals.

    Interested parties can start letting me know by email. I will forward your contact information to janbellas@appraisersguild.org. Jan will maintain the list of interested parties. As soon as we have enough people for a meaningful class action suit the attorney(s) will be retained.

    There are roughly 40,000 appraisers that do (or did) appraisal work for FNMA. It was likely higher when these thefts first started. That doesn’t even consider possible thefts of data from appraisals intended for HUD, VA or even Freddie Mac.

    Additionally, the borrowers that paid fees for all those millions of appraisals intended ONLY for their own loan purposes, may also have claims. Some of those poor folks paid upwards of $750 for what they were TOLD were just appraisal ‘costs’.

    This might be a good added topic for discussion at Appraisalfest, at the start of November.

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    • Baggins Baggins says:

      I’m in! However, I have speculated before that the mirrored content or non unique content seen repeatedly through appraisal reports is due to the plagiarism by data typing companies, and the blissfully unaware appraisers whom use those services. Do the appraisers really think their ‘data typing service’ brings anything different than the other 1000 or more a day reports they’re ‘typing up’? See addenda. Not much to steal…

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    • Elisabeth Bernhart says:

      Definitely interested. Thank you.

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  4. CORE LOGIC IS SATAN says:

    Love the way Alamode BURIES the “opt in” check box at the bottom of the Forms page so unless you look really hard you will not notice it.

    Its so painfully obvious they are trying to f ck all of us.

    Only a matter of time before our ENTIRE reports are stolen, copied and pasted.

    Biggers WILL rot in hell someday.

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  5. Baggins Baggins says:

    Pretty sure I’m not dealing with this because I’m still on Aurora.

    Simple light software has its own benefits and upside.

    If an advanced technology is available, the user is most likely not truly in control of that anyways.

    What’s a user opt in or opt out checkbox to a massive data conglomerate? Nothing really, just a checkbox to make the user feel good. Time and time again the whitehats and knowledgeable tech focused groups have discovered checking those boxes does nothing except keep such data transmission in the background so the user is simply not directly aware of the outbound packet activity.

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  6. Baggins Baggins says:

    Back to the article. Why would they need permission? Conflicts of interest perhaps?

    I present to you the Corelogic Comps Store, faq page.

    Looks like a pay per request Realist service, but also…

    Corelogic Store FAQ

    Attached image.

    “Where does Corelogic get property data from?”

    #7: & Other proprietary sources…

    99% coverage, impressive…

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  7. Ross Grannan on Facebook Ross Grannan on Facebook says:

    Thank you for the heads up, Core logic is the worst monopolistic capitalism, no way I want accessing my data, should have switched over but got to busy to test out new software. I have a winter project

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  8. SFLa Appraiser says:

    Can someone please recommend a software that will work similar, I’m willing to change but need advice. I heard ACI is also Corelogic.

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  9. Kitchen Garden Maui on Facebook says:

    Thanks for telling us about the check box. I called them last week to complain about this feature and they kept insisting it was USPAP complaint and I disagreed. The rep didn’t tell me about the check box only that I didn’t have to opt in. What is the truth about CoreLogic, why do they want to own all off the data and what is their REAL agenda? Does anyone know?.

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    • Baggins Baggins says:

      This is the new, oldest trick in the book. Tell the appraiser it’s uspap compliant!

      It is the appraisers sole responsibility to make sure their work product is ethically compliant. A form by itself is never uspap compliant, because it is the appraisers actions and adherence to ethical standards which creates ethical compliance. Without individual licensing there is no individual accountability, welcome to appraisal. They will do and say anything without consequence. It is solely our responsibility to form acceptable assignment conditions.

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    • Mike Ford Mike Ford says:

      Hmmm Best guess is it is related to their purported current annual revenue in excess of $1.5 Billion and desire for more. MUCH more.

      CoreLogic promotes their own zillow-trulia-realtordotcom-like AVM. FNMA and FHFA routinely cite their erroneous analyses (re low or high appraisals percentages). The data aggregator has become a self proclaimed data analyzer.

      FNMA has received somewhere in excess of 30 million appraisals over the past 7 or 8 years. IF CL could monopolize all those assignments and charge $250 each (PLUS upload fees of $65 each) thats $315 x 30 million. Say $9.45 BILLION in new and expanded revenue. This doesn’t count all their other spin offs. Earning an ADDITIONAL Billion plus per year is a pretty strong motivator to wipe out a profession and promote the myth that big data is somehow better

      That’s despite the FACT that every appraisal alternative huckster that has ever attempted to replace appraisals with their garbage has failed. Look at ZAIO. Look at Clarocity’s stock price (I know, same company). Point is NO ONE-not FNMA or anyone else has developed a credible AVM that stands up to objective scrutiny.

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  10. Juan Zamudio on Facebook Juan Zamudio on Facebook says:

    Any recommendations on software will be appreciated

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a la mode Pulling a Facebook Privacy Play

by Jonathan Miller time to read: 5 min