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Banking Agencies Issue Expanded Guidelines on Sub-Prime Lending

Nov 18, 2001

Keep ACE up your sleeveJosh SchulmanACE, appraisals, real estate In the early 20th century, Henry Ford made owning an automobile a possibility for every family in the country through his innovative system of assembly-line production. A few decades later, McDonald's incorporated this system with its method of franchising, not only inventing "fast food," but also making it available worldwide. It is hard to argue with proven success; America's Cutting Edge Real Estate Inc. (ACE) understands this. While traditional appraisers are constantly being slowed down by excessive paperwork, travel time and red tape, ACE is in the process of transforming the traditional appraisal industry. By allowing appraisers to just do what they do bestappraise propertyACE saves the appraiser precious time by applying the assembly-line technique to the appraisal process. With each step of the system performed by a trained individual with particular expertise, the ACE Operations Center manages each task and efficiently finishes each appraisal in 24 hours or less from the time of inspection. And by allowing appraisers to own their own ACE franchises, they have the entire country as a potential market. ACE currently has company-owned units in metropolitan New York, with franchise operations in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Texas. ACE appraisers show up to the customer's house dressed in professionally-designed career apparel. When a client contacts the Operations Center, he or she will speak with a trained customer service representative, closely monitoring every order. While the appraisers are in the field, dispatchers keep in touch with the homeowners and real estate agents, tracking assignments and setting appointments for the appraisers. A team approach is used throughout the system as appraisers and their assistants deploy from the Operations Center. ACE appraisers are equipped with a state-of-the-art mobile office unit converted using ACE custom specifications. Each van has a dual battery system to prevent charging problems, an 800 watt inverter that is strong enough to run a microwave, cameras, Global Positioning Systems, cell phones, a printer, a scanner and a wireless Internet connection. Tie it all together with a full-service review department that interacts with the appraisers, underwriters and loan officers, and the result is speed, quality and consistency. The ACE management team is led by the three original founders, including Maria Sonner, president and chair; Michael Reilly, VP of franchise sales and managing partner; and Daniel DeMonte, VP of national sales and managing partner. They have dissected, re-created and validated one of the quickest and most efficient appraisal systems in the country, and created a multi-state presence in only four years. In the last 12 months, they have added some of the best industry talent in the country, including Don Martin, ACE CEO, who has been a franchise executive for more than 25 years. As executive vice president, Mr. Martin directed field operations for Century 21 Headquarters, also serving as chairman of the C-21 Relocation Network. ACE COO Thomas Sullivan worked as COO of Roslyn National Mortgage Corporation, and was later promoted to CEO in 1999 as one of the top young executives in the mortgage banking industry. Mike DuBritz serves as the company's chief information officer and has a significant background in the high technology side of the mortgage banking industry. Sean Kiernan rounds out the group as chief appraiser with more than 20 years of experience in the real estate industry. Each member of the team contributes their diverse backgrounds to make the company the success that it is. I have worked with ACE for three years, says Ruben Loffriado the Chief Credit Officer of Columbia Equities Limited. Their name says it all. They provide impeccable service, they do not sacrifice integrity, and they are just a great asset for mortgage originators to have. They help us stay ahead of the competition. Don Pace of American Home Mortgage shared his impressions of ACE. I met them approximately two years ago, and I tried them later that week. I have personally used them from that point forward. We have a very good relationship with ACE, companywide. They are a total full-service company, from their appearance to their appraisals. "As far as an appraisal company is concerned, the service side is excellent," says Michelle Francis, vice president of Beachwood Capital. "They work with us from start to finish, so when that last house closes, we're not out of the market. They give us good, solid indications up front, prior to opening. They've been an invaluable asset." If key influences, executives with broad financial experience and old-fashioned technological know-how are all important aspects of running a business, then ACE's current success is an indication of even better things to come.
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