Do you have any new appraisal tools for 2016?
Well, it’s a new year and a fresh start. I’ve been toying with the idea for a while of moving into the new age of paperless appraising and electronic appraisal tools to gather field data. I’ve slowly been making the transition, and this new phase of moving from a clipboard and fiberglass tape measure to tablets and electronic tape measures has finally arrived.
It’s the journey, not the destination, right?
I have slowly been moving in this direction but until know have not been willing to go full in. My logic was that if I can do it just as fast or faster with a clipboard and tape why not?
I tried but was not completely happy with the mobile app for the appraisal software I was using so I decided not to worry about new gadgets and to continue on the way I had always done things. But you know what they say, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten”.
In an effort to streamline the appraisal process and improve my workflow I decided to try again so I took the plunge and added some new appraisal tools, and I can honestly say I’m glad I did. It required me getting different appraisal software, but I’m happy to say the learning curve for the new software has not been too bad.
There are many appraisers that made this step years ago, but considering the fact that most appraisers are over 50 years old, and sometimes it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, I’d bet that there are still a lot of appraisers out there that are still doing things the old way, which is fine if your’re happy with that. What I am doing here is sharing my experience in transitioning to a different way of doing things. If it can be useful to one person and make their job easier and more productive then I’ll consider the time spent on this post well worth it.
So what are my new appraisal tools?
As I stated previously, I decided to change appraisal software. I’m now using Total by Alamode. I tried their software many years ago but found it to be difficult to use, however that is not the case with the new Total. It’s not too difficult to learn and once you know the basics you’re ready to go. There are still a lot of features that I haven’t learned yet but I’m sure that will come with time. The mobile app that you use in the field is free and works seamlessly with the desktop version.
Appraisal Tools- Tablet for data gathering
I did a lot of research regarding the hardware I wanted to go with. There are a lot of options to choose from but some of my criteria included the following:
- I wanted something bigger than a phone but not a full size tablet
- I wanted a built-in flash for interior photos
- I wanted something reasonable in price
- I wanted a wifi version
- I wanted expandable storage
- I wanted something light weight
After looking at what was available on the market I ended up choosing the Samsung Galaxy Tab S, 8.4 inch version. I am familiar with both Android and IOS systems because I own both a first generation iPad and a Samsung phone. Two features of the Galaxy helped me to choose it. They include the built-in flash and a high quality front facing camera.
I don’t think you can go too wrong in choosing a tablet because most of them are very similar and will do the job. I know a lot of people like to use their phones due to the convenience of it, and because some models are larger they are easier to see. Whichever tool you will use the most consistently is probably the one you should get. Some people get a certain model but because it is not convenient or it is cumbersome they may not stick with their mobile set up and will end up going back to the old fashion way. If you do this then you’ll be out a lot of money with not much to show for it in the way of improving your appraisal business. It’s better to get something that you can work with so that the chances of success are greater.
Appraisal Tools- Electronic tape measure
I’ve had my Bosch electronic tape measure for while now and wrote about it when I decided to go with it. Using an electronic tape measure has really helped out a lot, especially for interior measuring. I will admit that I still use my fiberglass tape on the exterior whenever I cannot find something to bounce the beam off of but I’m working on that. 🙂
There are many appraisers who are able to use their laser tape exclusively but I’m not there yet. I sometimes find myself spending more time measuring the home when I only use the electronic tape because of the problem of not being able to find a wall to bounce the beam off of, so I decided that using the fiberglass tape occasionally helps speed things up.
I chose a Bosch originally because of the price, since it was on sale. Since buying it I’ve heard from others who use the Disto from Leica that the beam is a lot brighter and it has a few more bells and whistles. In the future I might go with the Disto but for now the Bosch is working well.
While the time spent during the home inspection has not been shortened the time re-entering data into the form, sketching, and labeling photos has been reduced. This has helped to speed things up, which increases my productivity. I’m still learning all the features of the software but I’m confident that the more I learn the more productive I will be.
Well, now you know what appraisal tools I’m using in the new year, care to tell me yours? If you’ve taken the plunge as I have I’d like to see how it’s going for you. I think it is helpful to hear the experiences of others to help us along on our own journey, so leave me a comment below. As always, thanks for Reading.