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New Tools From Clear Capital Facilitate Desktop Appraisals

Real estate agents and brokers approved by Clear Capital provide property information and photos that supplement data from public sources, helping appraisers complete accurate desktop appraisals.

Real estate valuation tech provider Clear Capital has introduced two products aimed at helping lenders leverage the services of real estate agents and brokers in order to make the most of new rules allowing lenders to rely on desktop appraisals that don’t require in-person inspections when approving purchase loans.

Clear Capital’s Desktop Appraisal service works in conjunction with Desktop Data Collection, which employs a panel of certified data collectors — real estate agents or brokers approved by Clear Capital — to provide property information and photos that supplement data from public sources, helping appraisers complete accurate desktop appraisals.

Clear Capital says its Desktop Data Collection service, which can also be purchased as a separate product, provides coverage of 90 percent of the U.S.

The cost and risk performance of appraisals conducted using Desktop Appraisal “is consistent with traditional appraisals,” the company said, and standard pricing without any fee escalation means the appraisal costs are always clear upfront.

Duane Andrews

“The recent additions of desktop appraisals to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s selling guides were an important milestone for our industry, as the desktop option can help deliver more timely appraisals while mitigating appraiser capacity restraints and helping to standardize property data collection,” said Clear Capital CEO Duane Andrews, in a statement. “Through our Desktop Appraisal solution, seasoned appraisers can deliver an opinion of value up to 50 percent faster than a traditional appraisal, meaning mortgage lenders can confidently close loans faster for their customers.”

Previously used mostly for home equity loans and by loan servicers and investors, desktop appraisals rely primarily on tax records and data from multiple listing services (MLSs).

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s federal regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), allowed desktop appraisals to be used for purchase loans as an emergency measure at the outset of the pandemic, when in-person home inspections were considered a health risk.

After reviewing data collected on the performance of loans approved through desktop appraisal, FHFA announced in October that it would allow Fannie and Freddie to expand the use of desktop appraisals for purchase loans.

Sandra Thompson

Sandra Thompson

“The housing market is always changing, and we need to ensure that our structures and systems grow and evolve with it by fully using all the appropriate tools and available information,” FHFA Acting Director Sandra Thompson said at the time. “With desktop appraisals, an appraiser brings their valuation expertise to information that has already been made available to them, such as through listings. This can help each appraiser complete more loans in a day, and it can also help rural communities more readily obtain a necessary appraisal when the borrower is purchasing a property.”

Last month, Reno-based Clear Capital announced ClearPhoto, AI-driven rules built into the company’s collateral review tool that automates the review of property photos to ensure they are aligned with appraisal data.

Last year, the company announced ClearInsight, a mobile app that helps agents, homeowners and appraisers collect data on a home’s contents and location information as well as capture floor plans and internal images.

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