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Should I Use An Appraisal Software Service

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Unger

Freshman Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2018
Professional Status
IT Professional-Appraisal Related
State
Virginia
I am going on my own in residential appraisals and I have been seeing many online services like anow, appraisaldash, appraisalhost, valuelink, etc. that say they can help manage the business - orders, billing, etc.

If you all have some experience with these services can you please share your thoughts? I don't mind the expense on these if it really saves time and catches errors, etc.

I hope I am posting this in the right group and am not going to get feedback from folks who work at these companies :).

Thanks in advance..
 

DWiley

Elite Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2007
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Tennessee
Mike makes a valid point. All businesses need to watch expenses, especially new businesses. Having said that, I think one of the biggest mistakes appraisers make is not delegating certain things to others. In my firm we had an office manger who scheduled, billed, updated orders, etc. We also had research assistants who pulled flood maps, pulled zoning info, etc. This created a HUGE amount of time that the appraisers could spend appraising, which generated more revenue than administrative tasks. A small firm cannot have all that, but I applaud you for looking at ways to be more efficient. I have looked at most of the services you listed, and some are VERY good. The key is to find the one that fits best with your work model.
 

Stone

Elite Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Wisconsin
Mike makes a valid point. All businesses need to watch expenses, especially new businesses. Having said that, I think one of the biggest mistakes appraisers make is not delegating certain things to others. In my firm we had an office manger who scheduled, billed, updated orders, etc. We also had research assistants who pulled flood maps, pulled zoning info, etc. This created a HUGE amount of time that the appraisers could spend appraising, which generated more revenue than administrative tasks. A small firm cannot have all that, but I applaud you for looking at ways to be more efficient. I have looked at most of the services you listed, and some are VERY good. The key is to find the one that fits best with your work model.

I don't do residential at this point, but I agree that looking into ways to be efficient with these things is important. I work by myself and it is really inefficient. I lose work (either lose bids or I simply turn it down) because I can't do things fast enough and sometimes those people stick with others. My wife and I bought a cabin in 2008 and at that time I decided that meant I didn't want any employees so I'd be free to work from wherever. That has worked fine for me, but it definitely puts a ceiling on your earnings and it does mean you sometimes have to scramble a bit more to make sure you are getting things done for your clients. It also means you are doing work that someone making far less could do - in my case that would be mapping, putting together exhibits and data sheets, sometimes verifying data, etc. Basically, the per hour rate of my time is less because I do the grunt work that doesn't require as much supposed "expertise" when with some help I could spend more time on the valuation aspect. So, while I can't speak to how these companies work (when I did residential it was only about one-third of my business, so it wouldn't have paid to even look into help then), I can say that if you want to maximize your earning potential, you will quite possibly need to hire someone or find something like a service to help. That said, I know nothing about these and you may be able to be as comfortable as you want without anyone (my situation) so all of this is basically my rambling about nothing. :)
 

DWiley

Elite Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2007
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Tennessee
I don't do residential at this point, but I agree that looking into ways to be efficient with these things is important. I work by myself and it is really inefficient. I lose work (either lose bids or I simply turn it down) because I can't do things fast enough and sometimes those people stick with others. My wife and I bought a cabin in 2008 and at that time I decided that meant I didn't want any employees so I'd be free to work from wherever. That has worked fine for me, but it definitely puts a ceiling on your earnings and it does mean you sometimes have to scramble a bit more to make sure you are getting things done for your clients. It also means you are doing work that someone making far less could do - in my case that would be mapping, putting together exhibits and data sheets, sometimes verifying data, etc. Basically, the per hour rate of my time is less because I do the grunt work that doesn't require as much supposed "expertise" when with some help I could spend more time on the valuation aspect. So, while I can't speak to how these companies work (when I did residential it was only about one-third of my business, so it wouldn't have paid to even look into help then), I can say that if you want to maximize your earning potential, you will quite possibly need to hire someone or find something like a service to help. That said, I know nothing about these and you may be able to be as comfortable as you want without anyone (my situation) so all of this is basically my rambling about nothing. :)
Working as a "lone ranger" out of one's home does not mean that one cannot use assistants. My former office manger became a free lance office manger. What she used to do for me and my staff in our office, she now does for several different appraisers remotely.
 

Stone

Elite Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Wisconsin
Working as a "lone ranger" out of one's home does not mean that one cannot use assistants. My former office manger became a free lance office manger. What she used to do for me and my staff in our office, she now does for several different appraisers remotely.

Right - that is what I was getting at. For me, I wanted no (income) ties to anyone because I want to be able to work in either of our homes. It just seemed too tricky and not worth the hassle given I'd like to be able to run up or down anytime I can/want (I'm in the field about three days out of two weeks generally and can bunch it up even more sometimes - not always). But, I likely would have hired someone either remotely like you mention or to be on-site some if I hadn't gone the very specific route I did.

My (probably clumsy) post was meant to advocate at least considering it, even as a solo appraiser. I certainly explored it and without that one additional part of our life (and the lifestyle we decided to have that came with it), I would have more than likely hired some sort of help.
 
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