Innovation

 
True to its founding principles, Lexur and its principal founders have been a continual leader in introducing innovative technologies into the mass appraisal process.

Lexur’s Impact on Mass Appraisal:

From the early 1970s through the mid-2000s, Lexur’s upper management team developed vast appraisal and administrative service experience, primarily concentrated in the Ohio local government sector. In fact, our individual experiences go back to the early 1970s when most revaluations were manually produced and CAMA databases were nearly nonexistent. As technology advanced, it was exciting times (and sometimes trying) for developing and implementing new CAMA systems. The past 40+ years have run the gamut of large computer-based systems to PC devices. Individually, in our respective previous careers, we helped develop, implement, and support CAMA systems in conjunction with revaluations, updates, new construction, and public information. Therefore, we bring a high level of understanding to the functionality of CAMA systems in relationship to the revaluation processes.

In 2002, now Lexur President Daniel (Dan) P. Muthard was a co-designer of then a new appraisal process commonly referred to in the industry as “Appraiser in the Van” (ADV). This was developed in conjunction with Mobile Video Services (MVS) from Kansas City, Missouri. Essentially, the available technology 10 years ago allowed for outfitting a van with photo imaging capture equipment and computers which contained GIS mapping, oblique aerial photography, and CAMA information on individual hard drives. An appraiser was assigned to an individual van and visually confirmed exterior data characteristics from a street-level position. Also, a photo image of the property was captured with x,y coordinates. The first implementation of this pioneering (beta) process was in 2003 during the 2005 re-evaluation cycle in Hamilton County, Ohio and proved to be a viable evolution to the typical data collection and final reappraisal review process. Certain identifying metrics were applied and analyzed during the process to evaluate the effectiveness of ADV. For the timeline and technology it worked well but also had some inherent drawbacks. The process is heavily dependent upon weather conditions, controlled access to datasets, and required multiple staff members to complete the imaging and data verification.

In 2005, Lexur Appraisal Services was founded based on a solid fundamental idea of providing exceptional appraisal services utilizing technology.

In 2006, Lexur helped introduce a newer appraisal concept to Ohio County Auditors. In early 2006, as a member of TEAM Consulting LLC, Lexur was part of a new technical innovation developed and first used in Wyandotte County, Kansas. The idea was to assemble and merge a jurisdiction’s available technical resources into a common portal of information to be used to remotely verify external data of any real property on a parcel-by-parcel basis.

Those initial resources included:

  • Ortho Photography/GIS
  • Street Level Photos
  • Oblique Aerial Photography
  • CAMA System Data
  • CAMA Sketches 
The exceptional results of this early project and Dan Muthard’s personal participation convinced Lexur that this concept held a strong future in the mass appraisal industry. As a result, Lexur prepared a white paper of this revaluation technique and presented it to Shelley Wilson, Executive Administrator for Tax Equalization at the Department of Tax Equalization (D.T.E.), for her review. The white paper incorporated technology into the revaluation process in accordance with the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) Standard on Mass Appraisal. The IAAO changed the Standard in 2006 allowing assessment jurisdictions to utilize aerial photography that has been developed to enhance the data collection/verification process.

That change stated in the Standard on Mass Appraisal is as follows:

3.3.5 Alternative to Periodic On-Site Inspections

“Jurisdictions may employ a set of digital image technology tools to replace a routine cyclical field inspection with a computer assisted office review.

This tool set should include:

  • High-resolution street-view images (updated at least every 6 years) 
  • Orthophoto images (minimum 6” pixel resolution in urban/suburban & 12” resolution in rural areas, updated every 2 years in rapid growth areas, or 6-10 years in slow growth areas).
  • Low level oblique images capable of being used for measurement verification (four cardinal directions, minimum 6” pixel resolution in urban/suburban & 12” pixel resolution in rural areas, updated every 2 years in rapid growth areas or, 6-10 years in slow growth areas).
  • Changes to interior characteristics may be monitored on a regular and cyclical basis (such as every 6 years). 
This alternative should be used in conjunction with information obtained through the permitting process, where available. In addition, appraisers should drive through assigned areas on an annual basis to observe changes in neighborhood condition, trends and property characteristics. A physical review is recommended when significant construction changes are detected, a property is sold, or an area is affected by catastrophic damage.”

As result of the aforementioned substantiation, the D.T.E. approved the process for Lexur’s first “Desk-Top Remote Verification” project, the 2008 revaluation project in Madison County, Ohio commencing in April 2007. This approach was also a first for the state of Ohio as well.

The project proved to be a success beyond initial expectations; in fact it was staggering. Of 12,000 improved parcels in Madison County, over 9,000 changes (or an astounding 75%) were made to the CAMA database. This vast amount of changes proved to all involved, that this was the future of timely, accurate, and foremost quality revaluations. Since then, Lexur has promoted and used this approach for revaluations involving over 1 million parcels across the State of Ohio.

In early 2011, Lexur made a significant strategic move to take the verification approach to a much higher level. The logic was based on newer available toolsets, other technical enrichments, and a replacement of a technically “aging” application as a whole. The older “Desk-Top Remote Verification” software lacked certain functionality as we discovered over time in our numerous appraisal projects. The original software was a “thick client” deployment installed locally on individual PC’s and/or laptops with external hard-drives containing oblique imagery, street-level photos, and GIS information. While this worked very well for Lexur for several years, it also involved dealing with technical problems at the individual appraiser level. At times when software updates and “patches” had to be applied, this required individual distribution across multiple workstations and required active management of making sure all workstations were on the “same page”. It became quite clear that the next “level” was eminent for Lexur’s future projects. As a result, Lexur worked closely with our business partner Data Digital Technologies, Inc. (DDTI) based in Columbus, Ohio to develop a web-hosted solution which provides for more efficient functionality and project monitoring. This strong and well thought out development has produced Lexur’s robust state-of-the-art “Virtual Data Verification (VDV™)” solution.

The benefits of VDV™ are many, such as:

  • Lexur’s VDV™ application is a SaaS -Cloud Solution with the base architecture utilizing SQL 2008-R2 as the database interface.
  • The User Interface is a browser based interface, hence a true “thin-client” approach.
  • Internet Access – Security firewalls permitting, the authorized user can access to the system features from most PC or Windows Browser enabled device
  • Updates and patches are installed at the web-hosted server level only and doesn’t require deployment across multiple workstations. This feature alone will save a significant number of deployment hours, individual downtime and control with possible inconsistent version usage among multiple users.
  • In case of a disaster at the County or Company level, the Web Hosted solution is safely stored off site and still accessible by authorized users via the internet connection; providing a multi-tenant architecture base.
  • No downtime – VDV™ is available 24/7 - 365 days a year.
  • Not dependent on weather conditions which historically have at times hindered field appraisal operations.
  • Safe and reliable Mirrored Image Backups (MIB) off-site.
  • Full virtual audit trail of transactions (who, when, etc.), are built into the architecture of the product.
  • A built-in electronic audit allows Instant Access to Management Queries to better manage the progress and quality control of the project.
  • Built-in work flow for data review, quality control, field checks, data entry, and management oversight.
  • Reduces cost be eliminating costly travel time and expense. The application can be accessed from anywhere, anytime. Therefore reducing costs to the Company and our Clients.
Since the recent release of VDV™ in the 4th quarter of 2011, Lexur’s appraisal staff has successfully reviewed thousands of properties.
 
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