Photo credit: Paul Sullivan
A webinar was recently hosted by appraisal profession publication Valuation Review, entitled, “Integrating Mobile Technology,” it was conducted by a former chairman of the Louisiana Appraisal Board, R. Wayne Pugh. Pugh discussed helping appraisers become more efficient by integrating a variety of solutions-driven technologies into the appraiser’s current mobile technology process.
“This webinar is geared primarily for the residential appraiser, but there is plenty here for the general appraiser to take advantage of as well as far as mobile devices in the field,” Pugh told his audience. “To me, everything is heading to the cloud and to the field to enable you to get your work done efficiently, fast and get that informational report to the client as soon as possible. And we all know that that has become more and more of an issue.”
One area Pugh focused on was the use of measuring tools such as DISTO laser measuring, which allows the appraiser to quickly and accurately measure properties.
“Some devices can be more expensive than others,” Pugh said. “But in this world, you get what you pay for. Spend the time to learn the particular product that you are using in the field.”
Then there are mobile apps, which helped transform the appraisal profession from being more office-based to the flexibility of bringing the office out to the field.
“Mobile is increasingly blurring that line, as traditional office-related activities can be performed anywhere,” said Tracy Boehrer, appraisal mobile product manager at a la mode, a developer of appraiser software. “This is possible by a growing number of mobile apps, fast and affordable devices and a proliferation of connectivity options.
“However, mobility is rarely about a single app. It’s about accessing data anywhere and using it immediately. A variety of tools that exist today can be used anywhere to increase productivity. When connectivity is as close as a smartphone or the nearest Starbucks, you get a diminishing need to return to the office. For example, in the past, if the subject property was different than expected it would require a trip back to the office to do comparable research. It’s already as simple as finding the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot or connecting to 4G, and doing the research in the field.”
Because of increasing Wi-Fi connectivity, a la mode and other appraisal software developers are expanding their products’ capabilities to allow appraisers to completely manage all aspects of the appraisal process out in the field. Appraisers can now do everything from accepting to submitting orders while out in the field.
“Availability of Internet access has made it quicker to acquire data while in the field, respond to clients and coworkers and move data from one app to another,” Boehrer said. “Apps like [a la mode’s] Mercury Mobile eliminate delays in the appraisal ordering process caused by appraisers in the field. TOTAL for Mobile increases the speed and quality at which final reports are completed. RE:Focus provides MLS searches and analytics on a mobile device. As these mobile technologies improve, the range of tasks that can be accomplished away from the office will increase. This will provide more flexibility for when and where work is performed.”
Enhancing efficiency is not about finding a “one size fits all” app that can solve all of an appraiser’s needs; it’s about combining a variety of tools to maximize different product benefits.
“Mobility is also more than just using a particular appraisal vendor’s mobile app with a smartphone or tablet. It’s about getting work done anywhere, with a variety of tools that all work together to aid in collecting and managing information,” Boehrer said. “Apps like Dropbox are a great way to save MLS sheets as a PDF and have access to them instantly from a mobile device. Document scanner apps allow you to avoid making hard copies of deeds and contracts. Remote desktop apps allow you to access your office computer from your tablet. Responding to emails while out of the office improves client relations. These are simple steps to being more mobile and productive. It doesn’t have to be an ‘all or nothing’ thing.”
Today, appraisers today are tasked with delivering in an environment where expectations have risen along with more compliance-related restrictions and adopting mobile tools is a fundamental part of addressing this environment.
“Appraisers often spend more than half their day away from the office,” Boehrer said. “Whether appraisal fees are dropping or the dollar per hour has decreased because of increased demands, real gains in productivity only happen through an improved and more flexible workflow that reduces travel time to and from the office, along with improvements while in the office.
“Whether simplifying existing processes, eliminating duplication of work, or reducing hard costs like gas and paper, mobile technology presents opportunities for how and where work gets done that isn’t otherwise possible. Those opportunities mean huge efficiency boosts to the overall report writing process.”
Valuation Review. Appraisal Technology Report
Valuation Review: Appraisal technology guru gets mobile in presentation