Software Provider Conflict of Interest(s)?
ACI software & “restricted appraisals” that suffer from schizophrenia…
It’s been awhile since I reviewed or researched influences affecting products offered by appraisal software providers. It’s hardly been a number one priority lately. However, I just noticed something I’ve missed for I can’t even begin to guess at how long.
Like many appraisers, I use a variety of software providers. Some do some things better than others, or easier. It’s usually been a matter of preference.
I started out back in the 1980’s with Formfil PC+, back on my old DOS based system. It was a decent appraisal software. Pretty basic, but fully functional and I wrote most reports up in half a day start to finish.
In the 1990’s, I was introduced to Richard Heyn’s ACI software, initially DOS, but then windows. It was then I started noticing forms being created that clearly were not intended for USPAP assignments. And I started reviewing forms much closer to make sure OUR products were meeting standards. I also noted a growing tendency among clients to think that the mere existence of a form meant that it was OK to use for whatever they wanted it used for.
Around 1993 or ’94 I was introduced to WinTotal (or Alamode). I’m not sure how it was commonly known back then. Despite the learning curve, I fell in love with it. Around this time, addendum WP software was also settling down to MS Office (Works and Word), with Ami Pro and WordPerfect, WordStar and others falling by the wayside (for appraisers anyway). The burden of trying to remain proficient in ALL new software and operating systems was becoming like a second job in itself.
Move to the 2000’s and my business partner and I reverted back to ACI, primarily. By now appraisal software providers thought they also had to be the word processor of choice as well as forms and addendum of choice. LENDERS discovered that they could have “special” products created that were MUCH SHORTER than standard required forms. And that they could often get these “filled out” cheaper. Providers told me that (1) “The market” was demanding these new forms, and (2) Income from appraisers only is not enough to keep the doors open and pay the costs of constantly new software. They had to cater to ‘other interests’ that used “appraisals” or forms that they wanted appraisers to ‘fill out’. For years, I just gritted my teeth and accepted my obligation to assure that MY report was compliant regardless of how shortened the form had become (or how long, in recent years).
After reading an article by Mr. Heyn in WorkingRE, a paid advertisement type article in which WRE does not provide a comment function, I checked the links in Mr. Heyn’s article. You see, I thought it was a very good article on an extremely important topic. I wanted to elaborate and offer additional support for the view being expressed but other than Twitter there was place to do so. I started clicking on the links until I wound up at the ACI site or one of it’s pages. Imagine my SHOCK on seeing my old respected software provider has been bought out by the very same mega-corp offering a NON USPAP compliant form which set off my complaint to the FFIEC and CFPB via ASC only a few days ago!
Yet, one more time in my life I see the amoral tentacles of another giant (former) title insurer that have reached into escrow services, loan origination, loan servicing, appraisal management, “and of course “valuation reconciliation”. And now even the ownership of the basic forms we appraisers use to complete our most common products!
The Appraisal Foundation gave them some nice public compliments in Las Vegas last week about a new service feature they are offering soon. I have to wonder if they were aware of THIS product when they did so?
Click Forms is starting to look better and better to me. Maybe I’ll keep my old WinTotal (Aurora). Maybe I’ll force myself to use my despised new TOTAL and try to get comfortable with Bradford, and renew Narrative1. It will be very hard to justify using my ACI suite anymore, knowing any money I spend there supports a conglomerate that thinks it’s okay to pay appraisers $70.00 fees for “restricted appraisals” that suffer from schizophrenia.