NMP - April 2017 - 80

NMP Mortgage Profession
CLASS APPRAISAL
A Nationwide Appraisal Management Company

Alex Elezaj
Chief Executive Officer

Class Appraisal Inc.
BY PHIL HALL

n March 30, 2015, Troy, Mich.-based Class Appraisal
Inc. announced the appointment of Alex Elezaj as its
chief executive officer. What was somewhat unusual
about this appointment was the absence of Elezaj's
previous involvement in the appraisal sector or any other
aspect of the mortgage world. Elezaj was previously
chief operating officer of Whitlam Group, a company in the printing and
packaging industry. Before that, he was senior manager of Takata
Corporation, a Japan-based global automotive supplier, where he played
a key role in the development of its North American business growth.
National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with Elezaj
regarding his migration into the mortgage space and his views on the
state of the industry.

O

What initially brought you into
the mortgage industry?
I've been in the industry for two
years. Prior to this, I spent 15plus years in various sales,
operations and leadership
positions with a couple great
organizations. The opportunity to
be part of the Class Appraisal
team came through some
business connections via the
Young Presidents Organization
(YPO). When I learned about the
business, I found it very
interesting, and jumped right in-
and it was the best professional
decision that I have made.
On the surface, manufacturing
and mortgage appraisals have
little in common. Is there
common ground?
It's great fit. In the manufacturing
process, you focus heavily on the
overall quality and efficiency of
the operations. I am a firm
believer that great operations
really drive the sales and growth
process. The most critical part of
the process is getting your team

onboard with the mindset to
identify and implement
organizational improvements.
Being in the weeds of your
business and constantly
changing to get better is
fundamentally necessary to be
successful.
How do you like the mortgage
industry in general and Class
Appraisals in particular?
I absolutely love it. This is a great
industry. I have met so many
hard-working and incredible
people, many whom have also
helped coach me along the way.
It's amazing what you can learn
about your business when you
just listen to what your clients
need are, and act quickly on
implementing improvements. At
Class, we focus on our people,
which drives the entire process. I
am a firm believer that happy
team members equal happy
clients, so we have a major focus
on creating an awesome work
environment and overall culture
for our team.

What are some of the
challenges you face in running
this business?
Our biggest challenge is to
ensure that we have a continued
team focus and strong attention
to detail. Our clients want and
deserve exceptional service
throughout the entire appraisal
process. Brokers, loan officers,
and every person through the
mortgage process has a lot riding
on our ability to manage the
appraisal process in the most
effective and efficient manner. We
do thousands of appraisals per
month in all 50 states, but our
team understands that our next
order is never guaranteed.
Whether it is a smaller broker that
we are helping grow, or a top 10
lender that relies on us to manage
a large amount of business, we
treat every single order with a
high degree of care and urgency.
What is your view of today's
mortgage market?
The mortgage market is very
strong, despite the expected

volume declines in 2017.
Although the refinance business
is down, purchase business is
strong, and should remain strong
for the next few years. However,
for us, our focus is on market
share growth. There will be more
than 10 million appraisals
required this year, so there is a
tremendous opportunity for
growth. Our business was up
over 90 percent in 2016, and we
are up over 35 percent in 2017.
Our continued growth will allow
us to attract and retain great
talent, invest in technology, and
continue to build a platform of
providing exceptional service
levels.
Is the appraisal business a
career that is attracting a lot of
new college graduates?
Generally, it has not been an
attractive career for new
graduates. To be an appraiser, you
need to have a couple of thousand
hours of training, which has limited
or no pay, so it presents many
challenges. For us, we are



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