Nicole Urquhart-Bradley To Lead Walker & Dunlop Appraisal JV With Focus On Data, Diversity And Mentorship
When Nicole Urquhart-Bradley, the new chief operating officer and managing director of Walker & Dunlop and GeoPhy’s Apprise multifamily appraisal venture, joined the commercial real estate industry three decades ago, she really didn’t want to become an appraiser.
“My father was an appraiser,” Urquhart-Bradley recalls. “I came out of school in the late '80s, and he looked at me ... and I was painfully shy at that point. I was having difficulty finding a job, and he said, ‘Well, until you decide what you are going to do, you are going to work for me.’ I came into the business kicking and screaming.”
But her reticence soon turned to gratitude as Urquhart-Bradley found her niche in a world that is often hidden from recent college graduates — a factor that Urquhart-Bradley would like to change as COO of Apprise.
“I had people who believed in me before I believed in myself, that pushed me to take risks, that gave me the support infrastructure so that I wasn't as fearful to take those risks,” she said. “We have to make sure the next generation of leaders is a diverse one by really partnering with people and partnering with our employees at an early start in their careers and making sure they have those mentors or sponsors.”
Urquhart-Bradley brings more than 30 years of commercial appraisal experience to Apprise, which she joined two weeks ago after a long valuations career that included executive positions within Bowery Valuation and Cushman & Wakefield's Valuation & Advisory practice.
She will be partnering with Apprise valuation lead Meghan Czechowski to oversee valuations around the country, a particular challenge now as a fluctuating economy and apartment tenancy market are making it harder to nail down accurate appraisals for multifamily products.
For the first time in her career, Urquhart-Bradley has access to exclusive data from lender Walker & Dunlop and GeoPhy at her disposal, allowing her appraisal teams to access data like rental comps and expense and construction comps in real time. That is a coup, Urquhart-Bradley said, because this type of information can become out-of-date in a month or less even when a pandemic isn't altering the world rapidly.
Apprise boasts the ability to deliver compliant multifamily appraisal data within five days.
“We are continuing to see deals getting done in the multifamily space, [and] Apprise has access to that information in real time, so there is not a lag of three to six months or even longer sometimes,” Urquhart-Bradley said.
“We also have access to deal-makers. As we need to, we can pick up the phone and talk to people on the front lines in real time, and that's huge, particularly in this changing time. This economic downturn has come on so suddenly that it really is difficult to understand the impact that it has had on property values.”
Apprise is a joint venture created by major CRE finance firm Walker & Dunlop and GeoPhy, which utilizes data to help lenders and investors drill down to the true value of commercial properties. With information and skill sets from both platforms, Urquhart-Bradley has sky-high goals for Apprise.
“My vision for Apprise is to be the No. 1 platform and the No. 1 valuation advisory group in the multifamily space,” she told Bisnow.
Urquhart-Bradley learned all about guiding valuation advisory teams at Cushman, where she managed a team of 600 people as head of the CRE giant's valuation and advisory practice. She sued Cushman & Wakefield in 2018 for gender and race discrimination. She declined to discuss the ongoing litigation.
During her long career, she felt blessed to continue to grow, Urquhart-Bradley told Bisnow, but she recognizes few young graduates, particularly minority groups, know about the business that has been so good to her over the past three decades.
Walker & Dunlop CEO Willy Walker pledged in June to more than double the diversity of the company's top earners, bringing the percentage of women in its top 20% earners bracket from 7% to 15% and the number of minorities in its top earners from 4% to 15% by 2025. Urquhart-Bradley emphasized Apprise's commitment to carrying on this legacy of fostering diverse and inclusive workforces.
“That is going to continue to be a focus for us,” she said. “We understand that diversity is important on so many levels and that ensuring we have a diverse workforce will make our workforce stronger.”
Urquhart-Bradley said there is a need to mentor from day one on the job and recruit from a variety of colleges and backgrounds to ensure the industry stays in line with the future.
“We have done a poor job as an industry increasing not only racial diversity but gender diversity,” she said. “[Diversity] is not only the right thing to do, it leads to a more profitable organization. We will continue to work at the Walker & Dunlop level, and also on the Apprise level to make sure we are as diverse as the communities we serve.”
Contact Kerri Panchuk at firstname.lastname@example.org.