Digital Appraiser Tracking

FNC here will roll out a new technology tool this week that will make appraisers easier to track and manage at the same time it introduces the use of digital signatures to the mortgage industry on a broad scale.

The company's Digital Credential technology, which it developed in association with UserTrust Inc., Salt Lake City, is a secure digital signature that links individual appraisers to their delivered work and to their business credentials. The tool is in pilot now with a number of appraisers, but FNC hopes to roll out the new technology to more than 10,000 appraisers using its AppraisalPort.

Built upon the Public Key Infrastructure security protocol, the Digital Credential will be administered to appraisers through a new website (digitalcredential.com). Appraisers who register at the site download a PDF document with complete instructions, which involve taking the document and supporting documents - information about service areas, all state licenses, E&O policy coverage - to a notary public. Once notarized, the documents are faxed to FNC where they are digitized and married to the Digital Credential application. Upon acceptance by FNC,

the documents are stored in an electronic vault developed by UserTrust. The encrypted information is available to lenders, based on the appraiser's preference.

Each application is inspected by a person at FNC before the application is accepted, but according to Nick Hales, president & CEO of UserTrust, that process will be simplified by the use of optical character recognition (OCR) when documents are received.

"By OCRing the documents, it really cuts down the time involved," Mr. Hales said. "We've had other similar type arrangements and it takes less work than a person would think. We've done it with the Department of Transportation here in Utah with online bidding."

FNC says it is in a unique position to promote the wider adoption of digital signature technology - especially in the area of collateral valuation - because of its involvement in developing the Open Appraisal Document Interface and AI- ready data storage and transmission standards.

"Through the work we've done with XML through the Appraisal Institute, we've developed a set of tools that were deemed Appraisal Institute ready, or AI-ready. That toolkit allowed appraisal forms vendors to integrate some objects that we've built into their forms software so that appraisers could deliver appraisals that were in this XML format. One of the nice things about having that toolkit deployed with all of the major forms vendors is that we had a platform to introduce digital signatures, says John Johnson, CTO, FNC. "The idea is to actually move digital signatures in to the mainstream so that they actually get used in practice."

He says that a number of lenders have cited security concerns. "We tie that identity to their license information and we track that information. There are national repositories, such as the Appraisal Standards Subcommittee which actually has a repository of disciplinary actions that are brought against appraisers, so that's one of the databases that we tie this thing to," Mr. Johnson says.

Copyright 2003 Thomson Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Next in News ►