This company aims for same-day evaluation times

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While strong demand for housing is not in sight, the real estate sector faces a serious problem: a dwindling pool of appraisers. HousingWire recently spoke with Chris Knight, CEO and Gabriel Hern, President of Opteon, which consists of an AMC partner and a personnel assessment company. We discussed the current market and the ways the real estate industry is addressing this industry-wide issue.

HousingWire: How is Opteon solving the shortage of assessors?

Chris Knight, CEO of Opteon

Chris Knight: The shortage of evaluators will not be addressed without focusing on the larger problem: the lack of attention to recruiting and training new evaluators.

I started my career as an appraiser in Australia. Australians have a different assessment training process than the apprenticeship model in the United States. Here, even if a person wants to become an appraiser, he cannot do so unless he knows an appraiser who is willing to guide him.

So the problem we face is that appraisers are retiring and very few new appraisers are coming into the industry. We address this issue directly through our Opteon University program. We match interested interns with experienced mentors. Opteon University opens the door to those who otherwise could not become evaluators.

Evaluation
Gabriel Hern, President of Opteon

Gabriel Hern: Opteon University was created out of necessity during the pandemic. Since the beginning of 2020, we have trained more than 150 cadets. But in light of the current need for evaluators, we are strengthening our program in order to be able to accommodate more trainees.

HW: What are the advantages of a staff evaluator over a panel evaluator?

GH: We have built our model to ensure that we can offer both options to our customers. Ultimately, our goal is always to match the right reviewer with the right order. Having a large pool of panel experts allows us to have real national coverage by offering services in rural areas and ensuring geographic competence.

CK: Staff assessors allow Opteon standardize reports and processes in a way
this is not possible with panel assessors. In New Zealand and Australia, Opteon has
created such a streamlined process with staff assessors that we can provide the same-
day shift times. We bring this standardization and our proprietary technology
to Opteon staff assessors in the United States in an effort to obtain same-day turnaround times
in the future.

HW: Same-day turnaround times are an ambitious goal. How do you plan to achieve this?

GH: We’ve heard skepticism about same-day processing times, which is understandable. At present, the average turnaround time takes 1-2 weeks. I had my own doubts when Chris and I started discussing this opportunity. Then I flew to Australia and saw first hand reviewers produce high quality same day delivery times. So many companies are trying to modernize the industry by focusing on technology with the end goal of replacing evaluators. This is the opposite of our approach: we want to empower evaluators and keep them in the field by providing them with technology, processes and data. This approach is in the best interest of assessors and of our customers.

HW: What do you think of companies taking a technology-only approach to the future of assessments?

CK: I think that’s a big mistake. As I mentioned before, I started my career as an appraiser. I know how much data is needed for each report. Technology simply cannot compete with human knowledge and analytical skills. Don’t get me wrong, I think technology and modernization play a very important role in the future of the real estate industry, but they should be tools, not replacements. Empower assessors with the data, technology, and standardized processes to work more efficiently.

GH: And as an industry, we need to address the issues of long lead times and a
the shrinking pool of full force evaluators. Without a bold approach, the problems
continue to grow. Opteon takes the lead, but the industry as a whole must come
together and embrace change if we are to have an impact on these issues.

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