We recently launched SMARTval, a data-powered digital valuation that cuts turnaround times to one business day, while still maintaining a robust risk mitigation framework.
It’s an exciting innovation that we think is a gamechanger for the valuation industry, offering improved margins and efficiencies for valuers in a time of significant technological disruption. However, I know from personal experience that whenever a new digital innovation like SMARTval comes to market, the question on the minds of many valuers is “what does this mean for the industry?” The fear of reduced fees, dumbing-down of the industry, increased risk, and any other semi-relatable cataclysm, all go through the valuers’ mind.
I’ve done my fair share of valuations in my time – residential, commercial, rural, mortgage, non-mortgage, expert witness, so I’ve seen most of what our industry has to offer. And since joining CoreLogic six years ago I’ve seen it from the other side – working closely with lenders and technology to drive faster turnaround times within a controlled risk framework in a highly competitive mortgage market.
I started valuing in 2006 with a clipboard, tape measure and a UBD (that’s a paper-based map directory for any Gen Z readers). It’s fair to say I’ve seen a lot of technology introduced since then, and each new innovation brought a level of uncertainty for valuers. However, we have always learnt to adapt, and in most instances have thrived.
Let’s look back at some of the innovations that changed the way we work, and the impact they had on the valuation industry.
Property research made easier
When I started valuing, CoreLogic’s RP Data platform was quite different to what it is today. But as a centralised location for property data it was a true game-changer – all the sale details, images and mapping for almost every property could be found in a single platform. The efficiencies gained from this single piece of innovation still serve valuers today as much as when I started valuing, significantly reducing the time it takes to carry out the research required to complete a valuation report.
Changing the way valuers receive work
Next came ValEx. I still remember when it was first introduced; as a valuer at a small boutique firm it was a huge change to the way we worked. We no longer needed to wait by the fax machine in the morning to get our jobs, there was now a “middle man” to distribute work, and we would be typing our own jobs – no more typists! At the time it seemed like a big change, however the industry embraced it and scaled – reports became more consistent, jobs were delivered to valuers in tight geographical regions, firms were exposed to more lenders and profit margins improved.
Desktop assessments were the first real test for valuers and, introduced back in 2004, were arguably the last piece of real innovation our industry has seen until now. No physical inspection? You must be crazy! But as is so often the case we adapted and desktops are now a staple of the industry, supplementing traditional valuations and becoming one of the highest margin services for valuers, while enabling faster turnarounds and cost savings for lenders.
Adapting during the pandemic
And let’s not forget about COVID. When the pandemic hit, the industry rallied to ensure that we could keep servicing our customers during the lockdowns. Some emergency industry meetings and new protocols introduced by the API were all that were needed to enable valuers, for the first time, to complete valuations without an inspection. This was adopted at scale and agreed between all firms and lenders, and was essentially an industry pilot for a new inspection-less framework that has continued to evolve, paving the way for solutions like SMARTval.
Faster, smarter valuations
So what does SMARTval really mean for valuers? SMARTval enables valuers to deliver data-powered valuations fast, backed by professional indemnity insurance, without the need for physical inspections. Given the evolution of the industry, this feels like a natural progression – lenders get faster valuations with minimal impact to their risk profile, and valuers improve their margins. And above all else, SMARTval keeps valuers relevant. In a time where the use of AI is becoming more and more prevalent, SMARTval enables valuers to leverage emerging technologies while still maintaining their central role in the valuation process.
The world of data is now immense, and it’s only natural that lenders, valuers and platform providers leverage this and work together to drive innovation and provide better outcomes for all stakeholders. Finding the right balance isn’t easy, but our partnership with Opteon in this initiative has ensured the valuers’ voice has been heard, and when SMARTval is rolled out across more valuation firms and lenders, I’m excited to see valuers do what they’ve done so many times before - adapt, and thrive.