Accurity Canada Consolidated Corp. has acquired three real estate appraisal firms in regions across Canada to grow its geographic coverage and expand its technological base, according to president Stephen Otto.
Toronto-headquartered Accurity is a residential and commercial real estate appraisal firm which operates across Canada, servicing clients such as appraisal management companies, legal firms and private businesses. It was founded in 2023 under an agreement to use the Accurity brand and trademark in Canada.
Accurity Canada has 40 staff members, Otto told RENX Homes. Its leadership includes Terri Austin as CEO and managing partner, Sherry Smalridge as vice-president of appraisal operations and Ryan LeBreton as chief innovation officer.
“There was a bunch of reasons for the acquisitions, but one of them was geographic coverage for sure, the other one was rapid expansion of our actual network of appraisers who work for us,” Otto said.
The acquisitions also provide more opportunity for Accurity to apply its digital appraisal techniques, he noted.
Acquiring the appraisal firms
Otto has over two decades of experience as an appraiser, and previously owned Otto & Company Residential Real Estate Appraisals from 1997 to 2017. Before joining Accurity as president, he was the vice-president of appraiser solutions at RPS Real Property Solutions and director of appraiser relations at FCT.
Otto said his interest in acquiring Quality Appraisals, LeBreton and Otto & Company was piqued when he became aware of the owners' desire to sell their businesses. He had existing relationships with the companies, especially as the former owner of Otto & Company before he sold it. The opportunity to buy it back came as he was looking to expand Accurity's operations.
His three criteria for considering an acquisition were:
- If there is a connection with the owner of the firm, to ensure it is aligned with Accurity’s values;
- the value the owners bring to the company; and
- if the appraisal methodologies and vision for the appraisal industry are open to modernization, just like Accurity.
Covering more space in Canada was key. Quality Appraisals, for example, covers B.C. and Whitehorse, Yukon, which is a “big strategic acquisition to get the West Coast covered,” Otto said.
The acquired firms are interested in a technology-driven appraisal process as well, strengthening their compatibility.
Before the acquisitions, Quality Appraisals had approximately 15 employees, LeBreton had three, and Otto & Company had five, he said.
Otto declined to release financial terms of the acquisitions.
Adapting to change is a key principal in Accurity's business model, Otto said. “We’re not your old-school appraisal firm. We’re a new school, visionary appraisal firm that wants to do things differently.”
Otto’s vision for the appraisals industry is to integrate more technology. In the traditional appraisal process, he said an appraiser would take a call, prepare a file, drive to the property, inspect the building using pen, paper and a measuring tape, then return to the office to input the information.
Accurity instead offers a “collaborative appraisal approach” where teams focus on specific parts of the appraisal process in a “production line of responsibility.”
Now, a logistics team will take the call, the appraiser will use an inspection app instead of analog tools, and an internal management system will streamline operations.
The goal is to maximize productivity. With clients increasingly frustrated with long appraisal times and expectations increasing along with regulatory influences, Otto said there is a “huge push" from lenders to automate valuations. It is critical to streamline the process to handle the requirements which are left over from automation, he continued.
Accurity plans to have 100 appraisers within a year by hiring more staff over the next six to 12 months, Otto said, and eventually have a presence in every major Canadian market. He is open to more acquisitions as well.