How we chose a new appraisal vendor management platform

Choosing the right technology is a huge challenge for lenders today. Technology options have multiplied in the last five years for every part of the mortgage process, but the sheer number and variety of those options have only increased the complexity of tech-buying decisions.

In a case study published in HousingWire’s Knowledge Center, Academy Mortgage outlines the pain points that led them to search for a new provider for its appraisal vendor management, and the significant improvements it has realized since integrating with Mercury Network.


For Academy Mortgage, a Utah-based lender with more than 200 branches nationwide, its efforts to bring down production costs and improve overall timelines led it in 2016 to reexamine its appraisal vendor management process and look for a new vendor partner. Not only was Academy paying a premium every time it uploaded an appraisal, it had to staff more than 40 full-time employees in its appraisal department to manage the workload.

But bringing on a new system was daunting. Between upgrading versions of its own proprietary software and outside integrations with several appraisal vendor management providers, Academy had dealt with five different appraisal vendor management systems in two years.

“Our staff had zero desire for another tech change in this area,” said Steven Caldwell, appraisal senior manager at Academy Mortgage.

If the company was going to go through another change, it needed that technology to be the right fit for the long term.


The decision-makers at Academy considered five key factors as they evaluated different vendor offerings. Their ideal tech solution would:

—Reduce appraisal platform costs

Academy was paying about $35 in technology fees for every appraisal they pulled, and wanted to find a system that had a lower per-appraisal cost.

—Reduce time to close

Academy’s timeline for appraisals — from the time an appraisal order was taken until it had been reviewed by underwriting — was 16.5 days. It wanted to find a vendor that could streamline the whole appraisal process and reduce time to close by a significant margin.

—Require less human oversight

Academy had 44 full-time employees in its appraisal department, and it wanted to make sure any system it chose automated many of the manual functions that were eating up multiple man-hours.

—Be easy for loan officers to use

Loan officers are on the front lines of origination, and with 200 branches, Academy needed a system that enabled LOs to have a pipeline view of their appraisals.

—Improve the appraiser experience

Academy leaders feel strongly that their success is tied to the success of the appraisers they work with, and any new system had to improve the appraiser experience. Serious mobile capabilities were especially important in this regard.

Find out how Academy approached the tech provider vetting process, what made Mercury Network stand out from the pack, and the stunning results of their integration, leading Academy’s Caldwell to note that “It literally changes our world, our lives, to be so much more efficient.” in the case study, here.