First American Mortgage Solutions is offering new data and technology support for appraisers aimed at reducing turn times for valuations and, in turn, closing times for lenders.

"Moving from loan application to close faster is a long-awaited evolution being fueled by access to better data and technology, which allows us to rethink traditional workflows and processes," said Kevin Wall, president of First American Mortgage Solutions, in a press release Wednesday. "This has been a major aspiration for us, along with the entire mortgage industry."

Kevin Wall, president of First American Mortgage Solutions
"Moving from loan application to close faster is a long-awaited evolution being fueled by access to better data and technology," said First American Mortgage Solutions President Kevin Wall.

The company is offering technologies that automate the appraiser selection process, provide the appraiser with access to property data resources for reference and research purposes, and provides data validation and quality control services. In test runs, connecting the data and analytics to a mobile workforce reduced appraisal turn times by 16%-20%.

Appraisal delays are a common lender challenge, particularly in hot housing markets, and in some instances lenders can address this with automated appraisal substitutes. But as the First American Mortgage Solutions effort illustrates, the appraisal industry is trying to automate to work faster as well.

In-person appraisals remain necessary in many instances where data available for validation is insufficient as lenders seek to balance the need to ensure valuations are sound with the need to keep closing timelines under control.

"We need appraisers but their role is changing," said Mark Johnson, chief strategy officer at property valuation company LRES.

Among other ways companies are looking to automate the appraisal process include digital walkthrough done using technology that can provide 360-degree videos of properties' interior rooms.

"It won't tell you everything but it will certainly give you the fundamental layout," said Johnson.