SmartExchange FAQ

This document answers some of the most frequently asked questions we hear about SmartExchange.

Document 3500  |  Last updated: 10/02/2018 RR2

Benefits and Functions:

Billing:


Benefits and Functions:

Question:

Where do I search for comps in SmartExchange?

Answer:

In order to find comps in the first place, you still go to your MLS and do your search there, because it's the best real‑time indicator of sales and listings. (Any system which tells you to skip searching the MLS, or which uses public records instead, is doomed to failure.)

But when you start typing the comps you found on the MLS into the grid, the magic happens — any comp address that someone else has typed in before you appears automatically.

And if there's more than one example of that comp from multiple appraisers, you can see them all and choose the one you like. Or you can edit bits and pieces here and there if you think otherwise. Or don't use any at all. It's your choice.


Question:

Can I choose to exclude certain appraisers?

Answer:

No. It's problematic to enable a group of businesses to exclude another business from a source of data solely on the basis of arbitrarily discriminatory criteria, potentially impacting their income or operations. When you join SmartExchange, you share with everyone else in your area on SmartExchange.

Over the long haul, you'll only encounter any given appraiser's data when that appraiser is the very first person to have typed in a specific comp. So, if there are 2 appraisers you don't like out of a group of 100 locally, then only 2 out of 100 comps probably come from them. Plus, you're not relying on their valuation skills — the thing you probably dislike about them — but rather just on their typing skills. (You're using them for free data entry, basically.)

Bottom line: It's better to see everything and then decide comp‑by‑comp if you want to use any given version, regardless of who it's from. Use it, ignore it, combine it with another, overtype only certain parts — it's up to you. And no matter what, it's better than starting from zero.


Question:

What if the peer data sources input the comp data incorrectly? How does SmartExchange help me if I still have to verify the data?

Answer:

You’ll generally see multiple versions of a comp from multiple appraisers. You can choose to use any version you want, or use none, or use bits and pieces from several combined. It’s no different than what you do today where you use multiple sources that you’re not 100% confident in, but they're the same sources that the buyers and sellers rely on.


Question:

Can I see prior adjustments from other appraisers?

Answer:

No. Adjustments aren't facts about the property, and depending on context, they could be considered assignment‑specific and therefore confidential.


Question:

Does SmartExchange include subject data?

Answer:

Similar to comparables, when you type an address into the subject field, SmartExchange automatically fills out the subject data if a matching version is found. However, none of your subject data is ever uploaded to the SmartExchange servers. Only comparable data is uploaded and shared.


Question:

Does it include the sales history and public records data?

Answer:

Yes. Every line item in the original comps grid is included.


Question:

Are photos included?

Answer:

Yes. It includes the photo used by each appraiser who used the comp as either a listing or a sale. Not only can you see what each appraiser typed, but you're able to see how each one's photo changed over time.


Question:

When will it work in my area?

Answer:

Right now. Because it draws from you and your local peers, it doesn't rely on area‑by‑area MLS configuration. There's nowhere that it "doesn't work yet". It works everywhere, as long as you and a few of your colleagues get on board.

Obviously, you don't get the benefits unless you sign up for SmartExchange. Like comps sharing systems that have existed locally for decades, you have to give in order to get. Unlike those older systems however, once you sign up, there's nothing else you have to do. It automatically contributes your comps to the local pool as you do your work, and you automatically see them auto‑populate when any comp address you enter is already in the pool.


Question:

If the Internet is down, or I'm offline, am I dead in the water?

Answer:

No. If there's no Internet for SmartExchange to work, then you're simply at the same spot you are right now. You'd have to type in the comps. But if you're offline, you wouldn't be able to search the MLS in the first place, or public records, or anything else — so it's hard to imagine how you'd rationally expect to complete the data gathering phase of the comps when your primary data gathering tool, the Internet, isn't available.


Question:

How does it really work?

Answer:

SmartExchange allows you to transparently share your comps grid data with your peers — and get access to theirs — in a way that's so simple, and so quick, that it's actually hard to demonstrate. The best way to describe it is "typing magic": You type an address in the grid exactly like you do now, and suddenly you see the rest of the grid for that comp filled out. Instantly.

No clunky MLS importing. No retyping of messy data. No expensive third‑party tools guessing at it either. How's it all possible? Well, with so many appraisers out there using our software, and everyone typing in many comps per report, it means that nearly every comp in your market has been entered into a grid by one or more appraisers before you got to it. Why retype it if someone else has already done so the first time? That's the whole value of crowdsourcing — using the magic of large numbers of people so that it lightens the load on any one person. Simply put, our goal is that no two appraisers should ever again have to do duplicate data entry for any one comp address.


Question:

Does this work with Aurora, or just TOTAL?

Answer:

SmartExchange is only built for TOTAL. Since the migration from Aurora to TOTAL is so simple and provides so many other benefits, we recommend that you switch to TOTAL to get SmartExchange.


Question:

What about hackers?

Answer:

SmartExchange data is pushed up to Amazon's secure private cloud, and no "back door" is opened into your local PC.

And think about what "SmartExchange data" is in the first place; it's just the comps grid info. Nobody cares. No hacker wakes up in the morning thinking that today might be the day that they finally get into a juicy comps database. It has no economic value whatsoever to them, and it's nicely protected — so they move on to other much shinier, much more lucrative, digital objects.


Question:

Isn't this a USPAP violation?

Answer:

No. This version of SmartExchange skips all of the subject information in your report, including in the grid, and only works with the comps slots (Comp #1 to #X). None of that comps data is assignment‑specific, nor is it client confidential. USPAP confidentiality isn't even in play here.

As with all USPAP issues, you should contact a trusted expert if you have concerns.


Question:

Who has access to use the data in SmartExchange?

Answer:

SmartExchange data can only be used by SmartExchange members using TOTAL.


Question:

How do I opt in?

Answer:

From inside TOTAL, click Data on your top toolbar and select Join SmartExchange. Once you agree to the Terms and Conditions, you'll be able to start using SmartExchange right away. Click here to watch a short how‑to video.


Question:

What if I decide to opt out?

Answer:

To opt out, simply email info@alamode.com with a brief message about why. We use your feedback to help improve our products. In a future update, you'll be able to opt out from within TOTAL.

All the comparable data you shared while opted in will remain in the SmartExchange database. Anything after the opt‑out date will not be shared.

Question:

Can I view comparables without putting them into my report?

Answer:

Yes. As long as you're opted in, you can view your peers' data with no charge. Only signed reports containing peer data in your comps grid will place a charge on your account.


Question:

Can I use SmartExchange if I'm not the primary account holder?

Answer:

Yes. However, all SmartExchange transactions are billed through the primary account holder and use the primary credit card on file. To change the primary card on your account, log in to myaccount.alamode.com with your a la mode credentials and click Credit Cards on the left.


Question:

Can I use SmartExchange if I'm an appraiser for a corporate customer?

Answer:

We'd love to enable SmartExchange for you, we just need approval first. Please have your direct manager reach out to us via email at alm-enterprise.vsg@corelogic.com.


Question:

What happened to SmartAddress? Can I still access it?

Answer:

With the release of SmartExchange, the Side‑by‑Side interface in TOTAL looks a little different. This is the case regardless of whether or not you're opted in to the SmartExchange program.

To access SmartAddress, simply click the SmartAddress button on the toolbar above your comparables. Click here to learn more.


Billing:

Question:

How much does it cost?

Answer:

SmartExchange is completely free for the first calendar month after you join. For example, if you sign up at the end of August, SmartExchange is free to use until the end of September. After that, each signed report in which you use peer data costs an introductory rate of 99¢.

Your first full calendar month is free. After that, each signed report in which you use peer data costs an introductory rate of 99¢ through the end of the year.

Question:

Is there a fee to join?

Answer:

No. SmartExchange is free to join, and your first full month of usage is free. After that, you're charged on a per‑report basis.


Question:

If it's free to join, why do I have to provide a credit card?

Answer:

You'll need to have a valid credit card on file in order to use SmartExchange for any future billable transactions. Once your free trial period ends, you'll be charged an introductory rate of 99¢ per‑report that contains a peer comp. Charges are billed on a monthly basis to the card on file. You can change the card on file at any time from My Account.


Question:

Am I charged for using my own personal comp data?

Answer:

No. There's no fee to use your own comps.


Question:

How does billing work if I pre‑enrolled?

Answer:

If you signed up during our pre‑enrollment period, your first full year of SmartExchange is completely free through November 2019.


Question:

How am I billed for the comps I use?

Answer:

You're billed on the first day of the month for each item from the previous month. To view your current bill, log in to myaccount.alamode.com with your a la mode credentials and click SmartExchange on the left.

The primary credit card on your account is billed for your SmartExchange usage. To change the primary card on your account, log in to myaccount.alamode.com with your a la mode credentials and click Credit Cards on the left.


Question:

How can I tell which transactions I was billed for?

Answer:

To view your pending charges, log in to myaccount.alamode.com with your a la mode credentials and click SmartExchange on the left. Here you can see which reports were billed, as well as when the usage occurred.

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