The ability to accurately assess repair costs on banked-owned properties can mean the difference between a precise real estate listing, and one that's either inflated or deflated by inaccurate repair estimates, says, a provider of online valuations. Because there is a need for accuracy in determining REO repair costs, used the week of the MBA Servicing conference in Dallas-Fort Worth to launch an online repair cost estimator that will function as part of its broker price opinion service online. Field Asset Services, for example, estimates that refurbished REO properties take less time to sell. The new feature allows users to obtain accurate repair estimates on bank-owned properties within a matter of minutes. Accuracy in repair assessments is key throughout the lending industry, especially with the Department of Housing and Urban Development issuing strict requirements -- including repair cost guidelines -- to originators who issue loans through the Home Equity Reverse Mortgage program. Westminster, Colo.-based BrokerPriceOpinion believes inaccurate repair estimates are costing the industry hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. But the company says its online repair estimator now gives lenders, institutional investors, servicers, appraisers, real estate agents and brokers access to repair costs that are specific to local zip codes, allowing marketers of REO properties the chance to decide whether it's more cost-effective to sell a property "as-is" or to repair it for the market. The cost calculator will give geographically specific estimates on everything from lawn service care to winterization and debris removal. "With the repair cost estimate add-on, we can provide our clients with a more comprehensive inventory of repairs that will help them determine accurate short sale and REO pricing," said Walt Coats, chief executive officer of "REO inventories will continue to swell for many months ahead as more foreclosures emerge from the shadow inventory. Banks, investors and other institutions quickly need to get a handle of their REO repair and maintenance costs that apply to the diverse properties, neighborhoods and markets represented in their portfolios." Write to Kerri Panchuk.