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Anyone use Swift Estimator online from M&S?

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David Dixon

Freshman Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
I'm trying to find out more information about the new Swift Estimator, online services from Marhsall & Swift. As a new trainee in a rural area it has been difficult for me to find someone to work under. I have finally found a mentor who is willing to work with me, but he has been focusing on commercial appraisal for the last few years and hasn't been renewing his residential cost guides. He is leaving it up to me to get the resources I need to to res. cost analysis, and I'm wondering if Swift Estimator's $6 per use charge might be more cost effective for me to start out with. BUT, I need to know how friendly the service is to use. If there is anyone out there who has or is using it, please let me know
 

Jeff Horton

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Alabama
David, I can't answer you question because I have not used it yet. But I can suggest that you look at their Estimator CD. It takes on 42 appraisals to pay for it at $6 each. I like the CD, simple to use and works for 95% of the appraisals no problem. The odd balls are a different story though but they are never easy.
 

David Dixon

Freshman Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Jeff, Thanks for the response. Could you tell me which cd you are using? Is it the Residential Xpress one (looks like it must be for around $250)? Any advice you could offer would be nice since the guy I'm working under has only used the books. I notice that Residential Estimator 7 is much more expensive, over $500. Do you know the major differences between the two? - David
 

Jo Ann Meyer Stratton

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Arizona
The book costs me $158 per year--divided by $6 would be at the costs of 26 appraisals per year. If you need to use it more than 26 times in a year, the book itself would be the cheapest. And it can be pulled off the shelf, with any section in the book available for reference.
 

Jeff Horton

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Alabama
The book costs me $158 per year--divided by $6 would be at the costs of 26 appraisals per year.

Good point Jo Ann! I have used the books and they work just fine and much cheaper from someone starting out.

The reason I chose the CD was because I could print out the form into a PDF file and place it in the appraisal. I needed the 1007 form for USDA new construction and the CD does that. I could have done these by hand from the book but honestly didn't want too. Call me lazy. :)

The other reason was it helped to eliminate most of my human error. Granted I can forget to enter a porch or make a mistake but I felt I was less likely to make a mistake as opposed to using the book.

Someone (on here?) said to treat ALL APPRAISALS as if they were going to court. I am trying and that was one of my Reasons for M&S. I had been using data from builders and Building Suppliers but decided that would hard to defend and right or wrong M&S is accepted as a reliable method. Again, I feel it makes "me" more accurate than using the book.

David, I have the Residential Express. It has a Wizard function. It goes through a series of menus and you pick the house style, construction, interior finish etc and then it creates the cost for you. You can then print it in (I think?) 4 different report styles. I paid $250 and I am well pleased with it. As Jo Ann Suggested you might want to save some money just starting out and use the book. Nothing wrong with them and it good to know how to use them too!
 

Tejus

Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Texas
Jeff, How close are the M&S numbers to your local builders/suppliers numbers?

When you used local builders/suppliers, did you obtain their permission and identify them in the report or did you include a generic statement like "cost info obtained from local builders/suppliers". I use the generic statement and keep the details in my records. I also prefer to approach these parties as a possible client for their services/products rather than an appraiser to obtain an accurate market representation for their services/products.

I prefer to use the local builders/suppliers numbers since they accurately reflect the local market. As you pointed out, the M&S numbers are widely accepted (even if they do not represent the local market) and more easily defendable.

I've been dealing with the same issue, do I use the more accurate local market info or the less accurate generalized M&S which is more defendable? Taking it to the extreme, if I knowingly use the less accurate M&S info then I've violated my professional responsibilities. I also think I'm wasting my time if the cost data is not accurate. Not an easy decision.
 

Jeff Horton

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Alabama
Jeff, How close are the M&S numbers to your local builders/suppliers numbers?

I have not really looked at it but seems that M&S is a bit higher.

When you used local builders/suppliers, did you obtain their permission and identify them in the report or did you include a generic statement like "cost info obtained from local builders/suppliers".

I used a generic statement. I didn't document their answers either and that is one of the things that bothered me. Nothing to really back me up. That, as I said is the main reason I chose M&S. I am trying to market myself to the legal field and that is another reason. While I might no agree with M&S it is defendable and with out really good records from a builder a lawyer could totally tear up anything you can't document as someones opinion and not fact.

If you have never been cross examined by a good lawyer it is a rude awakening. My attorney prepped me for a case once and it was an eye opener when he pretended to cross exam me. They can really twist what you say. As a side note that is why I think long wordy disclaimers in a appraisal are a mistake. Just more fuel for the lawyer to trip you up.
 

Tejus

Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Texas
Jeff, thanks for the info.

David, Reviewing the forum posts, I came across a free online
cost service at:

http://www.building-cost.net/.

Some posters claimed it was no better/no worse than M&S.
Uses the Craftsman Book Co numbers.

The posters stated it has a local adjustment option to reflect
market conditions. I don't think it does depreciation.

I'll take it for a spin when I have a chance.

cheers.
 

Pat Butler

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Illinois
I have used Swift Estimator online and it's not too bad. It takes awhile to get used to but they've sort of modelled it based upon the 1007 form. As with any cost service, you can eventually determine whether the cost service numbers are typically high or low for your area, then adjust accordingly. Their service seems to be consistent--- so in my area, they are almost always low. The online program allows for all sorts of adjustments to their numbers so it can be tailored to your needs. The reports are very detailed and attractive and you can download the reports as HTML files or MS Word documents.
 
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