Running an appraisal business can be fun and rewarding. If you own any kind of business you understand the need to control expenses and that task is getting easier and easier these days due to all of the free apps that are available. I wanted to share with you today 5 free apps that I have been using that help me produce better appraisal reports, market my services, and stay productive. Some of these apps also have a paid version but I have found that the free versions usually work just fine. You can always upgrade your account should you find that you would like to extend the features offered.
WordPress- What do you do to market your business? Several years ago I decided to start an appraisal blog and after much research decided on the WordPress platform. This free content management system allows you to build a blog for your business so that potential customers can find you online. It is not difficult to learn and it’s pretty easy to maintain. With a blog you can show off your expertise by providing helpful information to readers that educates and informs them. Years ago appraisers didn’t worry too much about marketing, but in today’s business world it’s a necessity.
PicMonkey- Have you ever needed to rotate a crooked photo? How about adjust the color or exposure? This simple and free online app can help you do this quickly. While appraisers cannot edit out, cover up or alter anything in their photos it is o.k. to make them look more professional by adjusting their orientation or quality. I’ve used this when pictures are a little crooked or when the sun has over exposed a shot of my subject or comps. There are other similar free programs available but I have been using this one for a while due to its simplicity and easy user interface.
Evernote- I am by no means an Evernote expert because it has so many diverse uses, and to learn everything it can do would take a very long time, but I began using it recently to help me organize and plan my assignments. I use it to make check lists for each of the jobs I do. One list is for each step of the assignment and the other list is for all the items my paperless file requires. By listing out all the steps involved in a job it gives me a good idea of where I am in the assignment and how much longer it should take me. My other list helps me keep track of what I have created an electronic copy of and what I still need to make the file complete. Evernote really shines when used to file and archive useful and helpful infomation you have recurring needs for. You can clip information from web pages and tag them with keywords to help you retrieve them in the future. As I said there are many uses that I am not even aware of so if you are interested you may want to check out their website.
Feedly- Do you like to read online articles to keep on top of the appraisal profession? I do too but it seems like I only have a limited time to do this. Feedly is a news aggregator app that helps you to automate and organize your reading material. You can tell it what websites you read and it will collect news articles and organize them so that when you have the time to read, the articles are there for you and you don’t have to spend unnecessary time searching for them online. While this app does not help you directly do your appraisal job it does help you save time, which can then be used to get more work done or spend time doing other stuff you enjoy more.
Google Docs- Google Docs is a good alternative to Microsoft Office or other suite of office applications, however it is free. Included in this free app is a web based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, form, and data storage service. I use the spreadsheet app the most when I am studying market trends. I can import MLS data and create charts and graphs to illustrate price trends and sales volume. Because it is an online app it can be shared across multiple devices such as your laptop, tablet, or smart phone. In addition, the graphs can be imported into my appraisal reports as supporting data for value conclusions.
If you don’t currently use these free apps I hope you will give them a try. Do you have any free apps that you use and can recommend to appraisers or other small business owners? Leave me a comment below, I would like to hear from you and hopefully discover new apps to help me in my business.