a la mode News

Put your best face on your website with Flash

June 09, 2004

You have a very limited amount of time to grab a web visitor's attention. The need to present information and impressions in an attractive, interactive way and in a short time led to the development, years ago, of Flash programming. But for years Flash was hamstrung by the size of Flash files — which resulted in much slower downloads — and the fact that you needed a special software program on your computer to see and hear Flash files. With Agent XSites, it's not that way anymore. But a generation ago — in Internet Time — using Flash animation on a website was regarded as ostentatious, a waste of bandwidth and time, something that kept the web visitor from getting to the important parts of the site.

Sites managing more appraisals than ever, faster than ever

June 08, 2004

Mercury Network servers routed more than 1,565,000 appraisal reports in May, the sixth busiest month ever. Our servers have reliably delivered more than 5,167,000 reports in the last three months, an annual clip of more than 20 million appraisals.

Concerns over new URAR aired

June 08, 2004

Fannie Mae released its proposed new 1004 form last week, as you probably heard from us (or from someone who heard from us). Those of you who have gone over it have tended to not like what you see, though you've identified some positives.

Mortgage XSites Websites Debut, Bringing More Leads, Faster Closings and Less Paper to Brokers

June 07, 2004

From the floor of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers Annual Convention and Exposition here, a la mode, the nation's largest provider of software and technology to the people who power the mortgage transaction, debuted its Mortgage XSites websites for mortgage professionals.

HUD, Farm Service Agency appraisal requirements highlighted

June 02, 2004

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) revised its Mortgagee Handbook 4000.2, Application through Insurance, including some changes to the chapter on Property Appraisal and Valuation. Note that this is not the long-awaited revision of HUD's single family appraisal handbook.

Drag on home price acceleration begins

June 02, 2004

Thirty-nine of 220 ranked Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) experienced home price contraction in the first quarter of 2004, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) reported this week.

Appraisers coping with higher fuel prices with fee increases, better itinerary planning

June 02, 2004

Last week, we asked you to share with your fellow appraisers how you're dealing with historically high gas prices. Twice as many of you wrote to say that you're increasing fees and/or adding long trip surcharges, than said you're not modifying your fee. But many of you are instead (or in some cases, also) paying extra attention to your field itineraries.

Federal court strikes blow for appraisers in Pennsylvania

May 25, 2004

The Association of Appraiser Regulatory Officials (AARO) last week made available on its web site an opinion of the federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in the case of Fidelity National Information Solutions, Inc. (FNIS) et al. v. Sinclair. As the link makes the rounds on Internet message boards, e-mail lists and the occasional news report, it is consistently being introduced as a defeat for state-level appraiser regulation and a victory for appraisal alternatives, like Broker Price Opinions (BPOs) and Competitive Market Analyses (CMAs) performed by real estate agents, Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) and other non-appraiser valuations. In truth, the opinion is a landmark victory for the Pennsylvania Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers (Board) and appraisers everywhere.

Appraisers’ side deserves equal time in AVM debate

May 18, 2004

Another valuation-themed e-mail newsletter, perhaps your second favorite, last week devoted its entire space to a defense of AVMs (automated valuation models) by the Collateral Assessment and Technologies Committee of the Real Estate Information Professionals Association (REIPA). The committee consists of the nation's largest AVM developers, including AVMax, Basis100, Countrywide, DataQuick, Fidelity National Financial, First American RES, Fiserv CSW, Real Info, Inc., TransUnion Settlement Solutions, and Veros Software. As confident as we are that the newsletter will quickly devote equal space to the appraiser's side of the argument, it's important to address some squirrelly contentions and outright falsehoods the AVM lobby presented.

Removing Owner’s Estimate of Value not a slam dunk, readers say

May 18, 2004

Last week we passed along (and mildly endorsed) a suggestion we'd received from several readers: that eliminating the Owner's Estimate of Value from appraisal forms would decrease mortgage fraud. This simple suggestion drew a lot of feedback.