Portland Area Real Estate Appraisal Discussion

Top Reasons for Real Estate Appraisers to Go Paperless and Mobile
March 4th, 2015 12:52 PM

Real Portland Appraiser Office

In 2010 I quit using paper in my office and began using a tablet computer for field appraisal inspections.  Work flow and efficiency improved significantly.  My office and files are now easily accessible, no matter my location.  Individual tasks of the appraisal are only done once.  The strategy has changed my business dramatically (similar to how the digital camera changed the appraisal business), yet the majority of appraisers still print and store large quantities of paper and take field notes, which then must be inserted into an appraisal report after returning from the field.  Below is a motivational list of the top reasons for appraisers to go both paperless and mobile.

  • Save Time:  Time is the most valuable thing that anyone has and none of us can buy more, yet our time is worth more than most of us charge for it.  To determine what your time is worth, divide your net appraisal fees by the hours worked.  Mobile appraisal techniques will, at minimum, save the time that is spent entering field notes into the appraisal report after an inspection.
  • Save Paper:  Paper and ink can cost as much as $0.17 per sheet for inkjet and $0.04 per sheet for laser printers.  A 75-page appraiser work file could cost between $3.00 and $12.75.
  • Save Space:  Most appraisers have boxes of paper filling up crawlspaces, storage units, or closets.  Online backup space is much less expensive than physical space, it is more easily accessible (USPAP requires accessibility), and it is more protected from disastrous loss.
  • Improved Image:  Clients and homeowners notice high-tech gadgets just like they notice a professional appearance.  Confident use of mobile devices in the field shows the client that we are worth a professional fee.  If the homeowner has a question, like wanting to explain an easement on the plat map, that information is easily accessible on a tablet computer.  The device homeowners seem to notice most is my Leica Disto when I come inside to measure areas not accessible from the exterior.
  • Increased Accuracy:  Most mobile appraisal software will remind you to complete critical fields.  This means no more forgotten inspection items.  Also, when an appraiser measures and sketches a property on a tablet computer, the sketch is closed before leaving the property.  This means that errors in the sketch are identified at a time when the appraiser has a chance to fix them.
  • Reduced Stress:  When an appraiser takes a tablet computer into the field, he/she has the opportunity to respond to emails and other issues that typically might need to wait until returning to the office.  This improves responsiveness to clients and associates, and it means less stress about returning to an office full of waiting work. 

If you haven’t gone mobile, here is a video of a class that I taught last year on the topic.

Did I leave anything out or do you want to join in the conversation?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading,

Gary F. Kristensen

All valid points. Well said, Gary. I am yet to be paperless, but I need to be. :)

Posted by Ryan Lundquist on March 4th, 2015 1:51 PM
Thank you Ryan for the comment. Quitting paper is best when it is done like a Band-Aid (right off!). Let me know if you need help or run into problems. I am always happy to help.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on March 4th, 2015 1:58 PM
I've watched your video before Gary and find it extremely informative. I have started the process of becoming paperless, but to be honest I sometimes go back to my old ways. With that being said my goal is to eventually move to where you are at. Thanks for sharing the benefits.

Posted by Tom Horn on March 4th, 2015 6:11 PM
Thank you Tom for your comment. I agree, it can be very hard for an appraiser to quit using paper and go mobile. The trick is to have multiple monitors and a pdf annotator program so that you're ready to change your default printer to pdf. After a while, you will not miss the paper and eventually you will wonder how you ever did anything with paper. If you need any help, let me know.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on March 4th, 2015 6:17 PM
Hi Gary - I agree with all those reasons to go paperless. Saving time and paper is a huge component, but let's be honest everyone wants to save money. This is why I came up with the app SignMyPad. SignMyPad is a digital signature application. People who work in real estate love SignMyPad because it's easy to use, and you can get your clients signatures right then and there. It's not a digital signature like those other guys - you actually draw you signature (We call it a wet signature in a digital frame) SignMyPad is available for iOS, Android and Windows. We even have a cloud version where you can push documents to the app. So if you ran the firm and wanted to get a clients signature where an employee was - you can push that file to their copy of SignMyPad get it signed and returned. I really think anyone in real estate can fully take advantage of going paperless, and SignMyPad is here to help you do that. Check it out at http://autriv.com/sign-my-pad/ Thanks Justin

Posted by Justin on March 16th, 2015 6:28 PM
Thank you Justin for your comment. You're right, we all want to save money. That is why this post talks about the cost of an appraiser's time and paper. I'm not sure if appraisers have much use for the software that you describe. Unlike real estate agents, we are usually just signing our own reports and most appraisers already have software that does that. How does your software save appraisers money?

Posted by Gary Kristensen on March 16th, 2015 6:49 PM
I went paperless a few years ago and I wish I had done it sooner. The cost, space, time and accuracy have made a big difference in my practice.

Posted by John Tsiaousis on April 22nd, 2015 4:20 PM


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