John Ryan, I did my research about a year ago on this board. I didn't post any questions, but read everyting I could. I chose Toolbox and have not been disappointed. It works well for my small business. I really don't know about the other sofware providers, other than what people on this board are saying and what some of my friends are using. Some of the folks I know use Alamode and ACI. The ones w' Alamode like it so so. I'm not sure about the ones w' ACI. Good luck and let us know what you chose and how it works out.
2 friends of mine demo'd Day One a few years ago when they sent disks to appraisers....Both had same problem. It crashed their AlaMode Software. Had only a minimum of forms and you paid out wazoo to get suite of forms.
But worst was Hyperform....I went to an appraisers office and she was actually in tears....Had worked all week trying to get the thing to work which she had bought because she was going digital camera. The phone support was sympathetic but totally unable to make it work. I tried reloading the whole thing, then working thru it....wasted my afternoon...finally I said, Let me go get a Toobox disk....She loaded it as a demo, and was instantly able to bring up the photos...They had tried to convince her it was her computer.
She has been with Toolbox ever since. It is awfully simple to use and handled digital photos before anyone else knew what they were. There are 5 appraisers in my neck of woods who use Toolbox and 3 who use Alamode. Those are obviously the two best IMHO.
Depends on what you are looking for and the size of your operation. For its ease of use and power, toolbox is incredible. That said, with multiple appraisers, and a medium to larger operation, the office management tools in total are hard to beat. I have used both. If I had to do it again, I would just use toolbox. It seems alot more stable. I would use quick books to do the office management side.
That's like asking what's the worst car and the best car.
It depends on your needs, your personal preferences, the way you work and many other things.
And the opinions you get for your question will be about the same as if you asked what's the best or worst car.
Get the free demos from all the vendors and try them out for a little while for each one. When one feels right for you, use it extensively until you either like it or hate it. If you hate it then go to your 2nd choice. You will find one that "Fits" you after a while.
Sorta like if you were able to "demo" all the cars. (wouldn't it be nice if you could demo your car choices for 30 days or so before you purchased?)
In addition some vendors offer a money back guarantee if you aren't happy! What a deal, try to get that from a new car dealer. :lol:
I use ACI.
I have friends who use SFREP, Toolbox, A La Mode and Day One.
Everyone has some complaints about software. No one package will do everything perfectly. I have tried several, thinking that after using ACI since the early 90's that I might be able to find something better. Nothing was better than ACI. But, that doesn't mean it's best for you or some other appraiser who uses and likes Toolbox, SFREP or whatever.
I'm satisfied with my software and rarely encounter a problem I can't solve, either alone or with help from Tech Support. Have had zero issues since I bought a new machine with XP Professional as the OS. It is stable and handles ACI really well. Haven't had any crashes in over 4 months!
I don't know that every ACI user is as satisfied as me, but then, it doesn't matter as it works really well for me. And, that's what counts, isn't it?
I second what James said and others. I personally use Day One and overall pleased with it. Sure there are things I don't like but the thing is learning to use all the features. Also finding software that works the way you like. I have no problem with DayOne Nova yet other than some minor bugs. Many turned out to be the way I was doing something. So I had to adapt to their way.
I am sure Alamode is excellent software. I just couldn't swing the price when I bought. I looked at toolbox but it was a 16 bit program and I wouldn't consider it for me because of that.
Waynes advice was the best though. Download or order the demos and play with them. Thats the best way to learn what YOU like.
And if you can upgrade to XP or Windows 2000. Putting W2k on my computer was the smartest move I made!! It goes days sometimes weeks without having to reboot.
I love the complete package Alamode's software includes.
Doing an entire appraisal without closing or minimizing the software is great. I can grab maps and not use other software. This feature makes it cheaper than the others with platinum membership.
My opinion is really based on being able to do the most work possible in the least amount of time. I feel you will find the best program for you when you figure out what features are most important to you. Then when you pick a program that fits this mold I think you will have the best for you.