Michael is a highly recognized industry executive with over 20 years of experience. From 1995-2000 Michael worked in loan origination and retail bank management before joining Lenders Service Inc. (LSI) in 2000. After serving as a leader for the appraisal department of one of the nation’s largest mortgage service companies, in 2005 he launched Appraisal Nation as a regional appraisal firm. In 2007 Michael expanded Appraisal Nation to a Nationwide AMC.
In the past 12 years he has led Appraisal Nation to a Top 50 Mortgage Service Provider in America (Mortgage Executive magazine), been named Housing Wires Top 40 Rising Stars reshaping the mortgage industry, and honored by the MBA of the Carolinas with their distinguished President’s Award. Under his vision Appraisal Nation thrives in all channels of lending and has over 800 Clients and growing, being named #842 and #1265 in the Inc.5000 the last two years.
Originate Report: How did you get started with Appraisal Nation?
Michael Tedesco: I started Appraisal Nation out of necessity. Back in the early 2000s none of the AMCs were focusing on small to midsize lenders. All of their attention rest in the top 50 lenders. I believed that all lenders, regardless of size, regardless of channel of business, should be able to have the benefits and cost savings that and AMC can provide. I also felt that a successful AMC would need the understanding and knowledge of the lending side as well as the appraisal side. When I found the right partners, an appraiser, a 20 year AMC veteran and myself, we began building out one of the most complete appraiser networks in the country. In 2007 we launched and never looked back.
OR: What is it that excites you about the Mortgage Industry?
MT: The people. We can talk products and innovation all day, and I recognize the world we live in is constantly changing and Appraisal Nation stays at the front of that change leading the way for our clients. However, the relationships we build, the connections we foster that is truly where I garner my passion from. To get to be a part of so many people’s lives and to know that in some small way Appraisal Nation is helping Americans live out the American dream that excites me every time.
OR: What sets Appraisal Nation apart from the other AMC’s?
MT: Relationships. Many vendors talk relationships and partnerships but we live it. We have it incorporated into our life blood. It is more than just our Mission Statement, relationships are our very essence. We turn simple vendor lender partnerships into friendships, and in time into family.
OR: How did you get started in this industry?
MT: I was a young 19 year old loan officer, which seems like an entire other life ago now. Back then I loved closing loans and helping people become home owners, or doing a refinance to help someone send their child to school or consolidate or their debt to payments they could afford. So many situations left with happy handshakes and great smiles. I still remember many of them today and I still enjoy helping our clients now, just on a different scale.
OR: What tools are essential to making Appraisal Nation succeed?
MT: In real estate they say location is everything. In vending, whether it’s our Title side or Appraisal side I believe our people are everything. We have a great system that’s integrated on every major platform but it’s the people behind it that matter most. From our expert appraisers in the field, to our 100 plus customer service reps, to our executive management team, having the right people all sharing the same vision makes all the difference.
OR: What are some of the biggest challenges that Appraisal Nation faces?
MT: In our constantly changing and ever litigious state, making sure regulations are always met can be demanding. Luckily we have a great Director of Compliance, Chief Appraiser, and Legal Team that stay ahead of all of this. Not to say we don’t have our growing pains in other areas, with over 800 lenders throughout all different channels of business you’re going to hit some pain points, but for us being able to communicate quickly with our clients and flexible to our design allows us to overcome any issue.
OR: What has been the most important factor in your companies growth?
MT: Without a doubt the two biggest reasons for our success is our organic growth from present client referrals and the success of our hands on customer service model. No bigger compliment can be had then when one of your clients refers one of their peers to use you. I cannot even count the number of times this constantly happens. I am humbled and amazed at how our model resonates with what people need.
OR: What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
MT: I have been very fortunate to have many great people around me for a long time. I moved out on my own when I was only 17 and thought I could take on the world all alone but soon found out that people really are your greatest asset. I like the expression, “it takes a village”, I know for me that’s very true. Everyone I have in my life has helped to create, grow, and expand Appraisal Nation. My wife, my business partners, my brother, my children, my employees and even our clients, all encourage me to be a better man then I was yesterday and in turn a better AMC.
OR: What CRM Software do you use and why?
MT: Appraisal Scope is our front facing system and it is great software, very user friendly and able to modify for specific client needs. Internally we created our proprietary AN Life which helps us with everything from interoffice global calendar events to internal file communication.
OR: What are some of your goals for 2018?
MT: A 1000 Clients, a hundred million in Gross Sales, and to see the Aurora Borealis. I’ll take two out of three, but I’m seeing the lights this year!
OR: Have you had to learn any lessons the hard way?
MT: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. This was a very valuable lesson for us back in 2012. We were able to secure one of the largest wholesale lenders in the country at the time and we did an excellent job with them for a couple of years. As we kept exceeded their performance levels our volume with them kept increasing. We kept hiring and training and even built out a facility to support the growth. Then one day I get the call from their CEO that they built their own AMC and would be migrating over. Next day worked stopped. I looked at our reports and they had ballooned into 65% of our business. It was a devastating loss. We spent so much time servicing them that we didn’t focus on any channels to offset them. We spent the next 5 years diversifying. Now we have over 800 Clients in 4 different verticals of business and are biggest client is only 9%.
OR: What is one piece of advice you have learned and carried with you throughout your life?
MT: When I was a young boy my pastor, who was like a grandfather to me, use to have a wooden duck in his house. I remembering asking why and he told me he had it to remind him “to be like a duck”. He explained, “As things in life come at you learn to let the negative roll off you like water on duck. Learn to use the water as your place to sail, and look graceful but to do this you have to never stop kicking your legs underneath the water.” He taught me grace under pressure and from that I learned nothing worthwhile is easy, and if you stop kicking you could sink. So hold your head up and kick like hell.