"Under the Hood"
Benefits of Technology
Appraisers are the most technical agents in the real estate process. By necessity, we've been drawn into the digital world at a much faster pace than our colleagues because the appraisal process is one that lends itself to technology.
Fortunately, technology pays significant dividends to appraisers and their customers in the form of shorter turnaround times and a much better final valuation report.
Millions of real estate transactions are processed each year in the United States. Almost all of them require some sort of appraisal. Technology has allowed savvy appraisers to reduce the amount of work their clients' need to order, track and receive appraisals.
In the past, the primary interaction between our clients and us was the telephone and fax machine. Clients would send requests via fax and then often follow it up with a phone call to make sure it was received. Tracking the progress of the appraisal meant more phone calls for both the clients and the appraiser. But we, as technologically-advanced appraisers, have a much better method. Using tools like this web site, with its ability to order appraisals online, clients can save valuable time when ordering and tracking appraisals. No more annoying phone tag!
The appraisal process is a data intensive process. Appraisers spend a lot of time gathering data about the subject property and its comparables as well as general data about the local market and developing trends. Once again, technology has stepped in to help.
The Internet has revolutionized the ability of appraisers to get quality data in a fraction of the time it once took. Previously an appraiser would spend hours finding the right location maps and then rubbing on decals. Modern appraisers get complete maps with location markers with a few mouse clicks. Maps, standardized addressing, accurate postal coding and census tract information are now all at our fingertips. This ensures the final report is complete and accurate; a real money saver for our busy appraisal clients.
Modern appraisers have forsaken the old print-and-snail mail route for a much more efficient electronic delivery system. Utilizing Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) files, an appraiser can deliver a multi-page report, complete with digital photos and maps, via e-mail.
Now, instead of waiting for the daily mail, or paying for expensive courier services, appraisal customers can simply log into their company e-mail system and retrieve all of the appraisals at one time.
Without wasting time and paper printing the appraisal, it can be routed to the appropriate loan officer or title company in the blink of an electron. Advanced organizations are leveraging technology to manage the delivery process as well as ordering appraisals. Before an appraisal is sent, this cutting-edge technology reviews the report and ensures that it meets a +ppropriate guidelines. For example, have enough comparables been used? Has the appraiser included a statement of limiting conditions? These items can be checked automatically and the appraisers notified before the report leaves their office. Now, when the final report arrives, the client can be sure the appraisal meets all the basic criteria.
It would be wonderful if appraisers could complete a report, deliver it and never worry about seeing that document again. But one of the purposes of an appraisal is as a legal document outlining the condition of the property at the time of sale. So appraisers must keep their reports for five years, allowing them to recall any appraisal to either defend the valuation or for uses and/or other legal proceedings.
The digital appraiser leverages his investment in technology by storing every aspect of the appraisal: notes, sketches, supporting documentation and calculations with the appraisal. The appraiser is able to retrieve that report at any time to recall all important and relevant data regarding the property's valuation.
To make the process even better, this data is not stored in boxes stacked X feet high in some rented warehouse. Instead, the digital appraiser can electronically include all supporting documents as part of the appraisal file.
These files are stored securely on searchable electronic media where the appraiser can quicly and easily find them. This helps appraisal clients by giving them immediate, virtual access to any appraisal they've ordered.
These are just a few examples of how technologically-advanced appraisers are helping improving the business efficiency of their clients. Technology allows the appraiser to deliver reports quicker, more efficiently and with with a higher degree of accuracy; this ultimately saves time and money.