Scott Spencer – LRES Corp.
“Time is of the essence” is a concept so important to real estate it’s often written into sales agreements to ensure the process is completed quickly and thoroughly.
The phrase is never more evident than in the services rendered by LRES Corp., providers of residential and commercial property valuation products and services for customers throughout the U.S., including Puerto Rico.
LRES Chief Technology Officer Scott Spencer says an emphasis on innovation, efficiency, flexibility and compliance has led to a new cloud-hosted order management platform and a focus on in-house and partner-developed integrated solutions.
“What we’ve tried to do is separate ourselves from our competition and continually expand our ability to serve any client of any size with a full suite of valuation products and services,” Spencer says. “Being an IT person with a seat at the table allows me to ensure our IT strategy maps to our business strategy.”
Now celebrating its 20th anniversary amid a real estate boom due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, LRES is in high demand for its property valuation services.
“Our company participates in both the residential and commercial real estate space by valuing properties on behalf of our clients, which include lenders, servicers, and Wall Street firms,” Spencer says.
The process at LRES begins when a client requests a valuation for financing a property sale, refinance, foreclosure or when a bank holding a real estate owned property, or REO, is looking to dispose of it.
LRES sources its national network of vendors to perform the valuation in their local subject market. Then, the vendor submits the completed valuation through a portal, which uses automated rule sets to check for quality and completeness prior to delivery to the requesting party.
Valuation demands tend to be cyclical. Residential originations are in high demand now, while REO-related valuations have temporarily ebbed due to pandemic-related foreclosure restrictions. REO activity is expected to increase as restrictions against foreclosures expire, Spencer says.
Quicker bids, faster results
Spencer’s team is building a new order management platform hosted in Microsoft Azure to replace two legacy systems. A deft touch is required, he says, because as clients migrate to the new platform, he needs to ensure there are no disruptions in service. The new platform also needs to retain some of the customizations from the existing platforms that accommodate the needs of clients.
Developed in-house by a team of a dozen, the new platform includes a portal for vendors to receive orders and deliver their valuations. There’s also one for clients to place orders and get status updates. A third portal enables LRES associates to manage and orchestrate the valuation processes.
The new platform also connects directly with client order management systems via custom integration, file transfer protocols or the LRES application programming interface.
Spencer and his staff have also rolled out a mobile app integrated into the new platform, enabling vendors to respond to and accept valuation orders and to complete some orders in the field using their smartphones.
LRES also prefills public record data into some product forms. A vendor can use or replace the information as needed. As the platform evolves, Spencer envisions it automating additional parts of the process.
“Our goal is to automate as much of the process as possible for improvements in turn-time and quality for our clients,” he says.
While creating the new platform, Spencer has also led a cloud migration. Implementing RingCentral allowed LRES to turn smartphones and other devices into mobile offices. LRES also integrated Microsoft Office 365 to improve operations and communications in the office and remotely. The migration was completed before the pandemic arrived, and he says it paid off quickly because employees working remotely had the ability to work securely and without slowing business.
Spencer hopes to launch a pilot soon for additional quality control checks on valuation reports. The AI would identify issues such as data inconsistencies, missing or concerning text, and faked photos versus original ones. AI could also be applied to floor plans vendors can sketch using video on their phones to improve the accuracy and consistency of the calculations while saving time on inspections.
Keeping it in-house
Born in Oceanside on New York’s Long Island, Spencer moved to Southern California as a sophomore in high school and has called the region home ever since.
While in high school, he began playing around with computers and says a guidance counselor recommended he study computer science.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo. His IT career began as a software engineer for Eaton Corp. in 1985 and he eventually became a development manager. In 1990, he joined TRW Federal Systems as a software engineer, developing, designing and testing software for a variety of government agencies and programs.
Spencer held similar roles during the 1990s, at MTI, Canon and Quantum Technologies. He became vice president of engineering at go2 Systems Inc. in 2000. In 2002, he became director of information services at Clear Channel Communications.
Spencer began working in the real estate industry in July 2004 as vice president of product development and engineering at CoreLogic. For the next 11 years he held leadership roles there and was senior vice president for the production services center when he joined First American Financial Corp. in September 2015 as vice president and divisional CTO for First American Mortgage Solutions.
He joined LRES in February 2019, and though Spencer has outsourced some functions, including helpdesk and infrastructure management to partners such as Enhanced Technologies Group, he says his role is essential.
“In-house managed development is a must. It’s a relatively small development team, but our Agile approach and software engineering best-practices, combined with laser focus on delivering business value, has kept us nimble,” Spencer says.
View this feature in the Winter I 2022 Edition here.
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