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Reverse Mortgage Appraisal Leader Launches Construction Division

Looking for a way to capitalize on demand for new-construction appraisals — for both reverse and forward loans — a major player in the industry created a dedicated position to manage transactions with builders and real estate agents.

Landmark Network, Inc. recently announced the promotion of Tina Heilbron to manager of purchase and new construction, citing increased demand for mortgages and appraisals for newly built homes.

Erik Richard, Landmark’s CEO, said the appraisal process for new properties comes with its own set of challenges, including increased paperwork, extended timelines, and a larger cast of characters that includes not only loan officers but real estate professionals, builders, and their sales teams.

“There’s a special level of hand-holding that purchase files need,” Richard told RMD, adding that it’s traditionally been up to the appraiser to keep all of the parties informed of a project’s status.

Under Landmark’s system, the Van Nuys, Calif.-based appraisal firm will serve as a “virtual sales office” for its builder partners, collecting detailed information about each project — such as updated upgrade lists and other changes to a particular property — to ensure that appraisers have the most accurate picture of the building at all stages of the construction process. The idea, Richard says, is to ensure that that appraisers can complete their work on time and not hold up the mortgage transaction for the borrower, the builder, or the real estate agent.

“We know that lenders who have a focus in the purchase business are working hard to team up with their respective real estate partners to work together,” Richard said. “We feel it’s important for us to be a part of that mix, and make sure we’re a value-add to that partnership, and try to avoid as many surprises as possible.”

The appraisal timeline can be particularly important in Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase transactions. Because potential borrowers can’t even apply for a reverse mortgage on a newly constructed home until the local authorities issue a certificate of occupancy, delays in the construction and appraisal process can have a ripple effect on the already complex HECM for Purchase process.

“If we already know that market conditions are pushing appraisal delay out there, the sooner we get that information to the lender and the real estate agent team, the more ahead of the curve they can be in getting contracts amended,” Richard said.

Heilbron, who has worked at Landmark for five years, will also lead efforts to train appraisers on the ins and outs of new-construction appraisal as part of her new position.

Written by Alex Spanko