In other words, having an inhouse AMC is probably not working out for Citi.
First American acquires majority share of Citigroup’s Chesapeake Appraisal and Settlement Services [Valuation Review] Reportedly the split is 51/49.
CASS is an appraisal management company and the purchase of this interest will help First American stay competitive with Fidelity. Speaking from personal experience, First American has the worst customer service of all of our vendors, probably because of their monopoly of services in our market.
Our appraisal firm has received many requests by CASS to join their appraisal panel with their callers basically apologizing for their unreasonably low fees (about half of market rate fees, in our experience) and 2-3 day turn times (3x faster than the norm). To get quality appraisers on their lists in certain markets, they say they will pay market rate fees and accept normal turn times. We have remained skeptical and have opted not to join the fray.
We have had the pleasure of reviewing many reports completed by their approved vendors and found the quality of the appraisal reports to be awful (The reasons could fill up another post). With low fee and fast turn time, the reports must be viewed by CASS as compliance documents rather than a tool to assess collateral. A factory, as you will. Remember, CASS is the firm that outsourced appraisal reviews to India to save money [SF Chronicle].
Actually, I have always wondered how an AMC owned by a lender can actually provided unbiased service to competing lenders.