Is Smart Exchange Really a Smart Idea?
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Alamode recently launched Smart Exchange to its users. The idea is appraisers can see what others have stated as property characteristics and transfer that information directly into your report. The system is based on mutual sharing, so if you participate, you will share all your comparable data with everyone else that is using Smart Exchange and you can see their data.
The last update from alamode installed the programming and changed the way the side by side screen looks. Now I must make a disclaimer here, I am in the over 50 category and my kids are all grown. It has been a very long time since I looked at such obnoxious bright colors; colors typically associate with the primary colors we learn in kindergarten. There does not seem to be a way to change the colors. I realize the twenty somethings are much more tech savvy than I and I would not even attempt to write a computer program, but seriously, how could alamode be so disrespectful to their customers? Is this not degrading to the licensed professionals that we are? What was alamode thinking?
So how exactly does Smart Exchange benefit appraisers? According to their announcement:
Alamode states it will save time on every report. I personally do not see how it will. Even if the data is automatically input into my report, I still have to verify it to comply with USPAP. From prior experience, when I transfer data from other sources, it actually creates more errors in my report. You see, I get interrupted frequently, and when I get back to the report, I don’t always remember where I left off. Either I’ve already verified information or I miss a line item and the report goes out with incorrect information. This is where revision requests cost me time and money. I would rather obtain and verify my own information and explain any differences up front. This is what independent appraisers are supposed to do, right? Paying a third party to transfer someone else’s data in to my report so it will cost me more time and money later, is not efficient in my mind.
Alamode states it is powerful data for better analysis. It allows valuable insights on how other appraisers have submitted property characteristics. I could care less what others rate a property. I am an independent appraiser and must perform my own analysis, opinions and conclusions. Not only does USPAP require this, I am certifying this (#16 on the 1004) in the report.
Alamode states it is compliant data sharing. Only comparable data is shared, so there is no USPAP issue. Well weren’t each of those comparable properties a subject? I don’t understand how this is not an issue. Quality and condition ratings are subjective opinions. Fannie Mae thinks they are absolutes, but we all know they are subjective and the quality and condition ratings are the opinion of the appraiser. It simply is not possible to be anything but a subjective opinion.
At the end of the day, I do not see any real benefit to Smart Exchange program. I have to question why any independent appraiser would use this and be willing to share their research and conclusions. Isn’t this like giving away trade secrets? Don’t our research, data, analysis and quality of our reports set us apart? Why would any appraiser want to give away what they have worked to develop over the years?
Now take this one step further, alamode wants to charge appraisers for sharing data. How insulting is that? It is our data we are sharing. Who gets the money? The appraiser whose data we use? Or alamode?
As you can tell, I am not a fan of this program until someone convinces me otherwise. Please share your opinions on Smart Exchange below and leave any additional comments in the comment section below. Once you’ve completed the survey, the results below will be updated.
By Advocate, Certified Real Estate Appraiser – author requested to remain anonymous