Data Grab From Appraisers

Data Grab from Appraisers, Core-Facebook-Logic Consumes Us a la mode

How can the a la mode purchase not be a data grab from appraisers?

This has been a tumultuous couple of weeks for Facebook. I’ve never been a heavy user of it, mostly a lurker. They constantly change navigation paths making it nearly impossible to update your settings frequently – and when you do, do you really trust them? I’ve always seen them as the “dark side” much like Mac lovers see PCs and Appraisers see CoreLogic. We all know by now that when you use something that is free, then you are the product. This was never more apparent when hearing Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress this week – his long-term tactic since Harvard has been “its easier to apologize than ask permission.” There’s a great read on Quartz: 14 years of Mark Zuckerberg saying sorry, not sorry

But now with other developments such as CoreLogic buying the dominant software provider in the appraisal industry with over 50% market share, a la mode, plus FNC, Landsafe, Dataquick and others, big data and big paydays seem to always come from the backs of frontline appraisers. CoreLogic powers a large share of MLS systems now through their Matrix software. How can that not be some sort of data grab from real estate agents? Likewise, how can the a la mode purchase not be a data grab from appraisers? I’m all ears.

As for the a la mode decision to sell to CoreLogic, it is a free country and this is capitalism in action. If I were Dave Biggers, the founder of a la mode, looking at a giant payday and a stagnating user base, I’d find this offer hard to turn down. Corelogic has a reputation for paying whatever it takes to acquire someone which makes me think the end game is bigger than the sum of the parts.

We use a la mode and I even provided testimonials for them in 2012, but now I am conflicted, and since we are heavily invested in their software, to leave at this moment doesn’t make economic sense. But this action opens my eyes to looking at alternatives, which are already cropping up, after the dominant appraiser form software brand, blinked. They will need to prove to appraisers they are not going down that path. This seems like a tall, if not impossible and improbable order. But our industry reaction isn’t about the seller. It’s about the buyer – what CoreLogic plans to do with this purchase, aside from the sterile press releases.

And Zuckerberg got a much higher hourly rate than I ever have on the witness stand as an expert. He constant use the terms like “I’m sorry” and “we didn’t know” are things I’ve never said on the witness stand. If I did, perhaps I could bill at $1.5 billion per day? Just a thought… Read more »

Jonathan Miller
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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26 Responses

  1. Avatar Bill Johnson says:

    There will always be others who want control of the process, the data, the message, and who ultimately want to provide their version of the truth regardless of the reality of the majority. Just today, after commenting freely for a few years (600 up votes / top commenter) Houseingwire appears to have permanently flagged any and all of my messages as Spam. Without reading my comments, their system automatically deletes my opinion. Free Bill Johnson, free Bill Johnson.

    Always seeking the truth.

  2. Avatar dee says:

    I have used a la mode for over 15 years.  I am really considering a change.

  3. Avatar Bill Johnson says:

    I’m not trying to highjack the article Jonathon, but one more thing relating to HousingWire. In their article, a Mr. Bill Emerson, vice chairman of Rock Holdings, had in part the following to say “Emerson: The whole industry is trying to figure out data and information. There are a couple of holes…The average age of a loan appraiser is 175, and they aren’t making them anymore”.

    In calling out Mr. Emerson by name, I challenged his assertion regarding the age of appraisers (Housingwire refuses to edit), why are we considered holes that perhaps need spackling, and why he says we aren’t being made anymore.

    Seek the truth HouseingWire.

  4. Avatar B says:

    I would think at some point I will have to impose my copyright infringement rights that i clearly state in every one of my reports and put them to the test to see if anybody stands between us and my right to control my data and not let anyone just pick through it like it was trash and then make a profit off of it and that includes Fannie & Freddie.  Anyone open for a class action suit?

  5. Avatar Bob Miller says:

    Communicated with a la mode when I received their email concerning monopoly, Zillow, Bradbury, and most of all independence.

    Got a reply back telling me to refer to the FAQ’s and to define what I ment by independence as apparently his Wikipedia was down.

    Very bad move on there part and I predict the downfall of a decent company. Putting money over principle and independence.

    • Avatar koma says:

      Yea Bob, I received a reply back too saying the same thing. When I sent them a link to an AB article they replied back stating; no it’s a good thing and that there are people out there spreading lies about the buyout.

      That did not sit well with me. My contract is up in a few months after 10+ years. Waiting on some advice from you guys to see what else is out there. Thanks ahead of time!

  6. Shear brilliance. Thank you Mr. Miller.

    Re your question of how do we know they won’t grab our data? Well, Dave Biggers PROMISED that he’d never allow that to happen as long as he owned alamode, didn’t he?

    Besides, didn’t Corelamode steal all the data they needed from appraisers already? Er, maybe they didn’t exactly say steal, but they claimed to have read, reviewed, studied, or analyzed millions of stolen appraisal reports er I meant appraisal reports. Reports that no appraisers seem to recall giving permission to be used for data mining.

    Also aren’t they the epitome of “Big Data” that we are all supposed to be in awe of? Certainly they couldn’t do anything wrong, could they?

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      The point may be to accelerate the shut down of the remaining resistance model. Owned and built by appraisers, not anymore. The branding was built around that.

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

    Looking for alternatives, I’ve used alamode for 23 years, when I sent an email with my written displeasure I was lectured by a sales rep saying it’s just business and I need to deal with it. Ok, I will deal with it.

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Oh man, I called this one in the other thread. The corelogic culture is already implemented. A nearly instantaneous transition to big corporate culture. Those poor reps probably got bashed harder than an average amc call worker. They finally get a taste of the medicine they’ve been serving appraisers for quite some time now.

  8. Avatar Bill Johnson says:

    Talk about a grab, I just received an e-mail from one of my better credit union clients (so I thought), that in part said the following

    “Every other year, we thank our employees with a holiday party in December. I’d like to see if your company would be able to donate a prize for a lucky employee. Everyone looks forward to the prize drawings and it’s undoubtedly the most exciting part of the evening. To show our appreciation, we would thank you and your company that evening.”

    This company has 3 billion in assets, 200,000 members, and over 500 employees, but yet their soliciting their appraiser vendors for holiday donations. The invitation is fine and appreciated, but if appraisers must bring a gift to join the party, it just shows how low on the totem pole we are.

    Seek the truth.

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      What does integration mean in this context of alamode going to corelogic? Surely it means something…

      • Baggs I HOPE ALL READERS WILL LOOK AT LINK YOU POSTED! The only thing they dont say there is that they’ll even let lenders ‘populate’ their own selected appraiser roster. My guess is they ‘integrate’ that into the system as well!

        • Baggins Baggins says:

          I’m trying to market here, click this appraisalscope link, and lookie what I found (the posted link). And I quote from the july 2008 email I had regarding appraisalscope (because I paper print everything); “We have finally launched appraisal scope, the first appraiser driven system. It’s about time appraisers have a system to protect ourselves and the appraisal process. Now we have the system and technology to compete with amc’s and receive full fees for our work. Every appraiser will be provided with their own application to receive, manage, and transmit their orders and completed reports.  We have implemented a reporting feature to report any payment issues or undue pressure placed on the appraiser. Appraisal Scope will enforce these reports. If you have not done so already please register now. For more info go to….  Jor dan Rothstein, CRA, MD,  VA.”

          Hey, what happened to that approach anyways? Apparently it’s worth it for Corelogic to buy out every company whom may have promoted appraisal independence in the past, it seems systematic at this point. Do you believe in coincidence?

      • Avatar Bob Miller says:

        Yep, more problems for we that use a la mode. Or is it Bradbury now?

    • Mixed feelings Bill. My first thought is what they are asking for is dangerously close to  “undisclosed payments to get work.” Having worked for the nations largest FCU for six years I think it was probably just a poorly thought out but well intentioned idea. Someone said how can we have the part while minimizing costs to our members? One dumb suggestion probably followed another.

      The problem with sort of thing is that you (or any other service vendor) will always wonder if someone somewhere in that organization will say “don’t use them, use so and so – that contributed to the Christmas party.” What if the exact same request came from FNMA; NCUA, Your State Board, or your AMC?

  9. Baggins Baggins says:

    Let’s ponder what could be ‘integrated’. One time many years back a mortgage broker manager anonymously posted on the appraisers forum that there is a lot they learn about the appraiser through the report. He claimed they could review the time frames of photos and know if the appraiser was in and out or there longer, among many other data points appraisers may be unaware are transmitted with the reports. I’ve wondered, is there meta data of sorts in xml packaging which indicates more than is just in the pdf? We need a coding specialist to tell us exactly what ‘extra’ points of data are contained in the xml. Corelogic will have access to unique data like how many reports an individual appraiser completes yearly, for whom, for how much, development time, resource use, level of integrated process, subscription levels, etc. They could quite easily engage in targeted solicitation of work to appraisers whom they find more appealing, higher volume, risk factors, spends more w/ corelogic, the list goes on. From biased ordering for various reasons, to denial of participation, the possibilities for conflict of interest abound. The reasons these business functions were separate is due to checks and balances. The argument being that one can not effectively originate, review, distribute, develop, package and sell, then also possibly manage repurchase, control the MLS and various other aggregate data, on the same hand. Or whatever it is they’re doing, the industry changes do not seem to be focused on the good of the consumer.

    • This is a BIG deal Baggs! its worth its own article rather than being buried down here where it wont be seen by many now. Consider sending it to AB as its own article…maybe throw in a few line or paragraph breaks for ease of reading? *g*

      • Baggins Baggins says:

        You know, I’ll leave the fame and fortune for the next guy. Just trying to get a fair shake with a little independent business here. Have I already been integrated and just don’t know it yet?

  10. Avatar Wayne Courtney says:

    Jonathan, tell me if I am wrong but I thought that the Housingwire thingy was a subscription based service. I have found enough free aggravation in my daily appraisal occupation that I have no desire to pay money for more! I would love to know why so many appraisers are willing to pay their hard earned money for newsletters, coaches, appraisal organizations and designations, expos, appraiserfest, etc. Why do we need all of this foolishness? I will be 67 my next birthday. I have taken that damn USPAP and taught USPAP so many times that I want to puke!. They change a “THE” to a “THEY” and it costs us hundreds of dollars. Are we stupid or what? There are SO many courses that I really need to take to make me a better appraiser. However, some asshole with the state determines what courses I should take for certification credit. Really? And I am paying fees for that “assistance”? Just ends up that I have to take what courses I need as well as what the asshole thinks I should take. More cost, more wasted time. This part of my comment is not directed to Jonathan. I just want to encourage my fellow appraisers to go for the general certification if they want to continue in this occupation. As you know the certified residential limits you to one-to four family, etc. There is enough commercial, right-of-way, divorce, farm/ranch, etc. to carry you into retirement and beyond! This is a totally different field. Some saltwater company has had a pipeline rupture and damages the surface owners property. The state wants to take your house to build the new freeway. Two twin brothers sue over the 20 acres they each live on and are mad as hell. A new subdivision, the airport wants to expand. On and on. Really, you do NOT have to screw with AMCs and BS provided by FNMA, etc. The MOST important part of this is that YOU decide what the fee will be. YOU decide what the turn time is. If they do not like that….they can find someone else. (good luck) Yep, I know…time for me to retire! LOL

    • Hi Wayne, I had to smile when I read your post. We share a lot of gut-reactions. Whether or not I WANT operate without newsletters, ‘fests, subscriptions, etc, etc is a business decision. Whether I SHOULD be able to function professionally without all the bells and whistles is a whole other story. Yes. We SHOULD be able to. MLS, basic software and readily accessible PUBLIC online data…unless of course people want to start paying a minimum $1,000 base fee for a non complex FNMA conforming loan appraisal and report; and a premium of $250 to $2,500 for a FreddieMac appraisal and report.

      I LOVED my Wall Street Journal and L.A. Business Journal subscriptions when I was Chief Appraiser or on staff at corporate appraisal firms or the government. As an independent, both are luxuries. My conscience won’t let me ask the Guild to subscribe using Members dues, either. (Where does THAT kind of thinking end once started?)

      I’ve been a member of the 100% Appraisers FB group for a little bit. Im a relative newcomer there. Most people are very well informed…but not all. I see quite a few nationally known figures there as well and I benefit from hearing their views…even when they (*s* are wrong imho). When Market first proposed Appraiserfest I mentally scoffed at the idea and said to myself “no”. Then I saw what was going into it in terms of effort and consideration to make it as cost ‘fair’ to all by its location and limitations on sponsors. Yes, there will be some players there that I’m not fond of. A lot more were rejected as sponsors because they actually wanted to usurp the tone and theme of the fest. I don’t see this as any great effort by Mark to capitalize on his fellow appraisers or to give up his career as an appraiser to become another convention organizer. He has put SO much time and effort into administering  the FB group that I know the motive is not money. Its to help fellow appraisers. I will be going and urge as many as can budget for it to also attend. I am going to MEET and mingle with MY PEERS. Not some hacks or other bloodsuckers from corporate America that specialize it dipping into appraisers pockets. I don’t drink so I’m not going out for beers and booze. Im going to LISTEN to what my peers views and ideas are on how to save our profession; and possibly to share a few thoughts of my own. The 100%Appraisers group is over 1,500 strong. That’s a LOT of years of combined appraisal experience and education.

      I did NOT go to Vegas for the TAF meeting on the 20th this year. Frankly there were FAR more important issues than just going to publicly spank the TAF for its ongoing lunacy. I business over 28 years and they STILL haven’t figured out how to get USPAP right yet! Though they are making remarkable headway into completely screwing up the appraisal profession.

      If anyone thinks they have not long ago sold out to the interests of their sponsors (including the ones that seem to be missing from their website) I have access to some investment properties out in California City I’d like to ‘share with you.’.

      Frankly, the states have also PROVED they are incapable of properly administering appraisal regulations that conform to federal law. Take my own state. Our leaders think they are exempt from Federal Laws. WHY would we think that they will obey FIRREA or Dodd-Frank as written? We need to remove enforcement of federal regulations and rules including USPAP from states that either cannot or will not enforce it as written.

      I absolutely agree that all appraisers should go for general certification. Do so before TAF/AQB try to FURTHER restrict access to the club! the residential side is going to get very untenable unless more people are willing to get involved and help us fight abuses.

      That’s ONE more reason I’m supporting Appraiserfest. I know there are some fighters among the group. I want to meet them.

  11. Baggins Baggins says:

    Related, too few comments to be sure. But it was at least, something.

    #732: CoreLogic Inc.; Analysis to Aid Public Comment; Proposed Consent Agreement


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Data Grab From Appraisers

by Jonathan Miller time to read: 2 min