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How Are Appraisals and Floorplans Going Completely Digital? With Jeff Allen and Nikki Rinkus

31.5.22

Louisa is joined by Jeff Allen, President of CubiCasa and Nikki Rinkus, Field Staff Appraiser at Clario Appraisal Network for the 6th episode of season 9 of The Propcast. The discussion kicks off with a description of CubiCasa’s product, what it provides, and how it speeds up floorplan and appraisal processes. Louisa, Jeff, and Nikki chat about the trend of tech adoption and digitization in the industry and how CubiCasa has a strong foothold in 142 different countries. Jeff explains how their company differentiates itself from competitors and describes the PropTech scene in Finland. One of the main takeaways in this episode is that technology isn’t eliminating any jobs, it’s creating more efficiencies. 

Resources:

Companies Mentioned:

Shout Outs:

Key Insights From This Episode: 

  • You can go completely digital, I walk into an appraisal inspection with just my phone, no pad of paper, just the phone and it does everything. – Nikki
  • Technology isn’t eliminating any jobs, it’s creating more efficiencies. – Jeff
  • Appraisers are naturally a sceptical bunch, we want to check and double-check everything so we are slow to adopt new technology. – Nikki
  • PropTech touches something universal and is important to everybody in the world. – Jeff

About Our Guests:

Jeff Allen, President of CubiCasa

Jeff Allen serves as President of CubiCasa where he leads the company’s overall strategy to digitize property data collection and unlock actionable data insights for homeowners and mortgage professionals alike. In addition, Jeff serves as Executive Vice President, Innovation Labs for Clear Capital, the real estate valuation technology company that acquired CubiCasa in 2021. In this capacity, Jeff spearheads Clear Capital’s in-house innovation hub, which focuses on the research, testing, and development of new products and solutions. Jeff has held a wide range of leadership roles throughout his career, including Vice President of Operations at CoreLogic, Chief Operating Officer at Rels, Director of Research Services at 10k Researching and Marketing, as well as Research Manager at Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®. 

About CubiCasa

CubiCasa is a PropTech company focused on providing value for real estate professionals through the digitization of properties. Headquartered in Oulu, Finland, CubiCasa is the global market leader in mobile indoor scanning and is known for its fast and easy-to-use floor plan app on the App Store and Google Play Store. CubiCasa’s technology is used in 144 different countries and has helped create over 1 million floor plans to date. CubiCasa provides technology for the real estate, appraisal, and mortgage industries and is on a mission to digitise real estate.

Nikki Rinkus

Nikki Rinkus has been appraising real estate in the Chicagoland market for 30 years and also holds her sales broker license. Over those 30 years, she has experienced unprecedented technological shifts in both arenas and has always been an early adapter. Some of her most interesting side jobs over the years include international courier and DJ. 

About Clario Appraisal Network

Clario Appraisal Network is a full-service residential real estate appraisal firm. Composed of highly-experienced appraisers, we provide the highest quality services across the nation. We specialise in real estate valuations for the mortgage lending and financial services industries.

About Our Host

Louisa Dickins

Louisa is the co-founder of LMRE, which has rapidly become the market leading global PropTech recruitment platform and search consultancy with operations across North America, United Kingdom, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

To promote the industry she is so passionate about, Louisa set up the Global podcast ‘The Propcast’where she hosts and invites guests from the built environment space to join her in conversation about innovation.

About LMRE

LMRE is globally recognised for leading the way in Real Estate Tech & Innovation talent management.

From the outset our vision was to become a global provider of the very best strategic talent to the most innovative organisations in PropTech, ConTech, Smart Buildings, ESG, Sustainability and Strategic Consulting.

At LMRE we are fully committed at all times to exceed the expectations of our candidates and clients by providing the very best advice and by unlocking exclusive opportunities across our global network in the UK, Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific.

Timestamps:

[03:20] Jeff: Can you talk us through your journey to the PropTech space in CubiCasa? 

  • I’ve been involved in either real estate or mortgage appraisal, for my entire career. 
  • Before I came to CubiCasa, I was running the R&D Innovation Lab at Clear Capital.
  • We were trying to find something that would enable anyone to collect accurate property data and floor plan measurements without any training and we found CubiCasa and made the acquisition. 
  • It’s something that enables anybody with a smartphone to do a five-minute walk-through scan of a property, and then receive back accurate and detailed floor plans. 

[05:25] Nikki: How did you meet Jeff? 

  • I had a long road to Clario, but about six years ago, I started working there and they are a subsidiary of Clear Capital and Jeff recruited me for one of his pilot programs. 
  • Before CubiCasa we had an app that allowed us to walk through a property to get data points and someone at Clear Capital sent back information. 
  • CubiCasa saves a lot of time for the appraiser so we could focus more on the valuation part and less on the data entry part. 

[06:45] Jeff: Can you go into a bit more detail about CubiCasa’s product?

  • The product works on a smartphone, a user can download the app and use it without training. 
  • You just walk through the property room by room, pointing your smartphone down, where the walls meet the floor then the data that’s collected and captured is processed through our computer vision and proprietary.
  • Ultimately then it is reviewed by a human to make sure that we produce an accurate end floorplan result and then delivered back to the user. 
  • Floor plan in a lot of different versions and property data as well, bed and bath counts and square footage. 

[08:40] Nikki: How long would it usually take to do something like that without CubiCasa?

  • It varies between ranch style or cottage style houses at one level, rectangular properties, complex properties and multi-story properties. 
  • Overall it can cut it by ¾ of the time and accuracy is much better.  

[11:15] Jeff: CubiCasa is in over 142 countries, what trends have you seen in terms of tech adoption and are there any countries you are looking to launch in?

  • What’s cool about CubiCasa is that the technology scales to different use cases and many different geographies.
  • It’s really a general-purpose technology that fits a lot of different use cases so it has organically grown.

[14:00] Jeff: The debate that is going on is that tech is taking away people’s jobs but CubiCasa helps people do their job as well as create new ones, would you say so?

  •  Technology isn’t eliminating any jobs, it’s creating more efficiencies. 
  •  A lot of people spend a lot of time drawing floor plans and it is easy to get it wrong when doing it by hand.

 [15:00] Nikki: What are you seeing in terms of people being hesitant to adopt new methods? 

  • With a lot of appraisers, there’s a level of trust involved and appraisers are slow to come to it.
  • What I would say to appraisers is; “Do you want to go back to the cut and paste era of appraisals?”

[17:55] Jeff: How does CubiCasa differentiate itself from its competitors in an ever-growing market?

  • The major things that set us apart are ease of capture, and getting the data and information. 
  • The most common way to get floor plans for people is either to hand draw or a virtual tour and you’re going to be scanning the house with special hardware, it’s going to take you an hour and you’re going to need specialised training. It’s not scalable or democratising.
  • With our product, all you need is a smartphone and you are doing a 5-minute scan with no training.

[21:15] Jeff: Could you tell the audience more about the Finland technology ecosystem? 

  • Before finding CubiCasa, I didn’t know there was a PropTech scene in Finland. 
  • There is a huge pipeline of talent and great technical talent coming out of the universities. 
  • The Finnish PropTech scene is growing pretty significantly.

[22:40] The ‘LMRE’ part, Louisa asks the guests to talk about; 

L– Touch on the main lessons you have learnt throughout your career.

Nikki: Just be adaptable.

Jeff: Be nice to people and good things will happen,

M – Please give a mention to anyone / product / service.

Nikki: CubiCasa

Jeff: Nikki for testing out crazy stuff for us.

R – What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in PropTech?

Nikki: Just being able to use the technology in the appraisal space and see how it’s made the process more reliable and streamlined.

Jeff:  PropTech touches something universal and important to everybody in the world.  

E – What are you excited about in the future of PropTech?

Nikki: To see the appraisal forms go from the static format that we’ve had for the last 19 years to a more logic-based cloud environment.

Jeff: AI and computer vision are already making an impact, but it’s just getting started. 

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