From clipboard and pencil and tape measure to tablet and laser measure, technology within the real estate appraisal practice can vary. Relatively speaking, overall the appraisal field is rather low-tech in nature. Perhaps less than 1% have a server operating for their network of appraisers. Most appraisers however use standalone PCs or Laptops for form filling. This is to serve as a guide to point you in the right direction for the paths outlined. I personally have found that ‘usually’ the more tech you have, the more efficient you are. Let’s go through an order flow and explain.
An order is received.
When entering the order in for your tracking purposes, are you utilizing an assistant? If not, can you? This may help offload some of the work you are doing that you may not have to do. Also how are you tracking orders? Paper ledger, Excel, Anow or some similar tracking software. While we don’t utilize ANOW, we have a tracking order platform that is online so that it is easy to sync with online calendars. Whether you use a service or do this on your own, the beauty of tracking online is having the ability to share calendars which can either notify a trainee, spouse, or an office manager of what the week looks like. We track all orders with online calenders.
Some just simply trust pencil and paper more than online services. While it’s definitely gratifying to see the orders physically, I would only recommend this as a back up due to the lack of advantages in notifying a team or even family of your week. If neither are of interest then perhaps you are a paper ledger individual.
Most states are requiring your smartphone device be secured if using it as a GPS, if you use a traditional GPS then you won’t have to worry so much about mounting your apart phone or tablet. What you should consider however is a way to have your smartphone play through your car radio. If you are not fortunate enough to have that as a built in feature, there’s plenty of Bluetooth devices to allow for this. The main reason we recommend having Bluetooth streaming is to listen to appraiser podcast instead of the traditional radio. Tim Anderson, Dustin Harris and Phil Crawford provide both great information and entertainment value for your comp driving journeys. The main reason here for stressing a driving element is that the technology that we recommend is using Google Maps. Whether its through a tablet or smartphone that is secured or from within a builtin component of your vehicle, Google Maps allows you to set up multiple stops. Check out how to set up multiple stops along your comp driving journey. This not only will save you time, but it saves gas and provides an overview for the best way to route your way to comparables.
The clipboard has been with the appraiser she’s. Being trained this way, I find a personal comfort in filling a tangible copy of the inspection sheet. However that sheet will need to be retyped into the report later on. Why not fill out the form while you are on the job? While not all appraiser software has the ability to fill the forms out on mobile, Alamode has an app based companion to their form software “Total Mobile”. Whether smartphone or tablet, they provide a means to collect the information, pictures and sketch of the property. If you have yet to use it, you may find out how much more verbose and complete your inspection process is. One thing on hand we have for inspections is a checklist. This ensures you do not miss an item (pictures, required inspection item, etc) and have to look unprofessional by asking to revisit the property. Alamode has a checklist within their software to ensure you do not miss an item.
Also, are you still using a tape measure? If you haven’t given a genuine try with a laser measure, you truly not benefiting from the time savings a laser measure provides when measuring a property.
Form filling software
This portion we are heavily partial to Alamode’s Total software simply for the reason they provide mobile inspection software. “Inspect-A-Lot” works with Clickforms however trying both, the side by side view of the sales comparison grid along with more third party add-on options makes Alamode the top choice.
Form filling ultimately will be completed at a desk. Sure you can take your laptop to a coffee shop or to the beach and type but for maximum production, nothing beats a well equipped office space. Whether it’s a standard or standing desk, the main things you need to consider is viewing and processing.
If you want to save yourself time and and create ease on the job, purchase a large single monitor system. Some higher volume appraisers utilize a three monitor system however in my experience, with the larger monitor sizes available for home computers, a single monitor provides a more fluid feel in the work. I utilize the side by side view often so a three monitor system didn’t provide more than a 32-37” monitor would. A large, single wide screen monitor handles the job perfectly. Further, there are so many PCs that have pros and cons, simply just don’t skimp on processing and RAM power. You will find yourself utilizing a lot of computer resources with multiple browsers, appraiser software and some media running in the background. Nothing is more frustrating than a slow computer. Because this aspect is relative to time, make sure to get an up to date PC or laptop to minimize that time wasted on a slow computer.
The appraisal field is relatively low tech but as you can see, adding a few key items can take your income from a $50,000 range to $100,000 range and that’s no exaggeration. You do not want to reduce quality in reports to produce a certain volume. Having the right tools allow you to be well equipped and on path for being a top producer. This section does not speak to having other systems in place (virtual assistants, trainees, associate appraisers, etc). These aspects certainly can catapult your production however the baseline recommendations are provided here. Once you have a good flow, you will find you yourself eventually becomes the bottleneck and the next steps to increasing your income would be to seek those systems to be implemented into your practice.