Technology is transforming the valuation industry. We are seeing new ways of collecting and reporting property data, backed by advanced AI and machine learning models. We are seeing new technology increasing efficiencies on regular appraisal tasks, from measuring to form-filling, allowing property appraisers to deliver reports faster.
- 1. Tablet or Ipad
- 2. DSRL Camera or Smartphone with wide-angle clip-on lens
- 3. Disto or Bosch Laser Distance Measurer
- 4. A Smartphone with LiDAR Scanner
- 5. Digital GLA Floor Plan App (no need for tape measures)
- 6. Multiple Computer Monitors
- 7. Internet Hotspot
- 8. Cloud storage software
- 9. Appraisal software tools and apps
- 10. Mapping technology (GPS, GIS)
If you are a certified real estate appraiser or an appraiser trainee on the lookout for the must-have technology tools to spend less time on-site and increase productivity and efficiency on every assignment, you are in the right place.
Read on to discover 10 technology tools for your Appraisal Business.
1. Tablet or Ipad
Let’s start with the basics. Nowadays, more and more property appraisers are ditching their clipboards for an iPad or tablet to gather their data in the field, and I bet many more will soon jump on board the mobile appraising train.
Many real estate appraisers use a tablet or Ipad to complete a property inspection 100% paperless on one device. Form-filling, taking pictures, scanning documents on the go, sketching the property, accessing data stored in the cloud: all can be done on the same device.
Sure, going mobile with a tablet or iPad can save time on-site, but not having to get your paper notes, sketch, and photos into the report when you are back in the office is the actual breakthrough.
If you are a real estate appraiser or a trainee considering buying the best tablet or iPad to perform appraisal works, here are a few tips:
- Make sure it is a compact device, has a long-lasting battery, and that it runs your favorite appraisal software smoothly;
- Some examples of the best tablets and iPads for Appraisals with excellent reviews are Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 (Android) and Apple iPad Pro 11 (iOS);
- Consider also buying a protective case with a hand strap and kickstand (e.g. Here Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Protective Case). You won’t fear any drop!
2. DSRL Camera or Smartphone with wide-angle clip-on lens
This is no surprise as pictures make really great exhibits and are usually required to fulfill lenders’ requirements.
It’s no longer mandatory to purchase a digital camera. With the advanced technology of our smartphones, we have high quality cameras in our pockets. Many trainees start off with their phones and even licensed appraisers are more and more solely relying on their phone cameras. If you decide to use the camera on your smartphone, you might want to get a wide-angle clip-on lens like TODI 2-in-1 Clip-on Smartphone Lens. However, for some rural areas, a superior wide-angle and long-distance zoom of a DSLR camera might come in handy. Not to mention a digital camera typically has a superior flash, very useful for indoor pictures.
For those of you that are still indecisive about whether they are “team phone camera” or “team digital camera”, this comment from a Certified Residential Appraiser on appraisersforum.com could solve the debate:
Splitting hairs but:
If commercial…phone works fine.
If residential…recommend camera. IMO you look less like a creep and more like someone doing a job…no guarantees if you wear sandals to your inspection tho
3. Disto or Bosch Laser Distance Measurer
Measuring and calculating the square footage of a property is no joke: There are many variables to consider and there are many ways to do it. Not to mention it is extremely time-consuming. Believe it or not, the old-school tape measure is still in use. The difficulty here is to have a buddy to help you pull it across the room and hold it steady.
However, many appraisers prefer using a laser measure instead, from the top-of-the-line Disto to less-expensive and reliable Bosch. A laser measure has the big advantage of providing real-time measurement in a handheld device during the home inspection.
4. A Smartphone with LiDAR Scanner
This appraisal tool is a no-brainer. But a decent smartphone can be used for more than simply taking pictures and staying in touch with home, clients, and homeowners.
Some real estate appraisals actually find their smartphone big enough to appraise with. No tablet, no laptop. 100% mobile!
Appraisers who use smartphones for their inspections can compromise the smaller screen with a built-in flashlight and the option to directly use their data plan instead of relying on an external hotspot. Sometimes less is more, right?
This is especially convenient for appraisers who don’t use iPads on their assignments or any other expensive hardware. New smartphones allow appraisers to capture high quality pictures for their report without the need to carry heavy cameras on each appraisal assignment.
Moreover, the recent advancements in smartphone technology provide even more functional solutions right into the palm of your hand. Especially relevant to appraisers is LiDAR (“Light Detection and Ranging”). LiDAR uses light sensors to measure the distance between a sensor and a target.
There are numerous mobile apps that are using LiDAR to improve the appraisal process and turn smartphone into indoor scanners and measuring tools. We’ll give you an example in the next point.
5. Digital GLA Floor Plan App (no need for tape measures)
You just need the right app to unlock your smartphone’s full potential to collect property data for your assignments. An example? CubiCasa App turns your smartphone into a property scanning device solution for appraisal assignments or as we call it GLA calculator app. By “scanning” (shooting a video inside the app) with your phone, CubiCasa technology will automatically take measurements of the property, create a digital floor plan with internal walls and exterior dimensions, and generate Gross Living Area calculations. Gross Living Area results provided by CubiCasa align to ANSI® Z765. Scanning the property requires only minutes of work on-site and the floor plan is delivered in 6 hours or 24h based on the selected turnaround time. No need for a Disto or any other device! Be aware that CubiCasa app is supported on several iOS and Android devices, and LiDAR is not mandatory. However, users with LiDAR Devices benefit from higher accuracy and scan stability.
Technology that helps when doing appraisals for complex properties
CubiCasa is a game-changer for real estate property appraisers when it comes to appraisals on larger and more complex properties. It cuts all the measuring and sketching and saves tons of time during the inspection. Here is the experience of Nikki Rinkus, a Certified Residential appraiser using CubiCasa on complex properties:
The biggest impact is on the larger, more complicated properties. A 2 1/2 to 3 story house with a basement and garage and several outdoor spaces would have taken me at least 30 minutes to measure versus using CubiCasa where it’s done in 15 minutes or less. For that same house, I would spend up to an hour or so on producing the sketch versus the 10-15 minutes it takes to get a CubiCasa sketch into your report including quick edits and/or any fix requests. If no changes are needed to the original output it can take less than 5 minutes to get the CubiCasa sketch into my report.
Floor Plan and GLA solution for Desktop and Hybrid Appraisals
Moreover, CubiCasa is one of the best appraisal tools when it comes to Desktop and Hybrid assignments, since it requires no training, supports both Android and iOS devices, and gives accurate results.
6. Multiple Computer Monitors
Yes, we know you probably already have a desktop computer or a laptop. And in most cases, you won’t need anything fancy to do appraisal work. But let’s get a bit more specific. For an appraiser, having enough space to have at least 2 monitors on their desk can be a huge time-saver.
Gotta have multiple monitors. Forms on one, MLS info on another, public records or supporting data on another
What if you don’t have space on your desk for multiple monitors? Well, in that case, you could be interested in buying one with the screen split feature, such as LG 24” LED Monitor.
7. Internet Hotspot
Valuation professionals know the importance of a strong Internet connection in the field when they’re conducting an assignment. Whether it’s for accessing data on comps during a walkthrough or accessing data stored in the cloud, you’ll need to access the internet wherever you go. Moreover, many professionals don’t have their tablet or iPad set up with a data plan, so they either need wifi or a hotspot (typically their phone).
To avoid unpleasant surprises on the go, you can purchase a mobile wifi hotspot, to reliably access the Internet, even in rural areas. An example? Netgear Unite Explore 4G LTE Hotspot would most likely do the trick.
8. Cloud storage software
For real estate appraisers, it is very important to have access to all of their files, data, and programs from remote locations. Moreover, cloud-based storage options make sharing documents and working collaboratively with your team easy. There are plenty of solutions available: Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Microsoft One Drive. But now, most appraisal softwares are actually offering cloud storage options. So make sure to leverage cloud storage software in your workflow and learn how to make the most out of it!
9. Appraisal software tools and apps
Many are cloud-based and therefore accessible from everywhere. Appraisal software and related tools and apps offer plenty of opportunities to improve efficiency and increase your productivity while writing your appraisal report. The key characteristics to look at when searching for the best appraisal software are high-quality data, relevance to the appraisers’ needs, user-friendliness, and accessibility.
There are many companies that currently provide real estate appraisal software, such as SPARK, Appraise-It by SFREP, TOTAL by A la Mode.
You can find out more examples and use cases in this blog post by McKissok.
10. Mapping technology (GPS, GIS)
Without my phone GPS, I would get lost on country roads during comparable inspections.
Not only an appraisal tool, it’s a life-saver tool. “Mapping out” your day and your inspection schedule can be very helpful to cut costs and manage your time more efficiently. You will increase the number of daily visits and reduce daily mileage. Some appraisal software includes map features and there are also specific tools like CoPilot GPS.
But even the good old Google Maps could work for you. Here is a useful tutorial from the National Association of Appraisers.
Are you Interested in using CubiCasa for your Appraisal Business?
CubiCasa application delivers consistent GLA results that align to ANSI® Z765. Scanning the property requires only minutes of work on-site and requires no training. Our app supports most iOS and Android smartphones, which makes it perfect for Hybrid and Desktop Appraisals. 6 hour and 24 hour turnaround times available.
Read More about Benefits for Appraisers using CubiCasa
How do Real Estate Appraisers use CubiCasa?
Read more about real estate appraisers’ experiences using CubiCasa for their assignments
- Nikki Rinkus – Field Staff Appraiser at Clario Appraisal Network
- David Schiffmayer, owner of Evergreen Appraisal and Certified residential real estate appraiser based in Colorado
- Jamie Owen, State Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser in Northeast Ohio
You can also listen to this episode of the Propcast by Louisa Dickins: How Are Appraisals and Floorplans Going Completely Digital?