Thursday , 3 December 2020
Mobile Appraising

Mobile Appraising and Workfiles

(Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on The Appraiser Coach’s Blog. For additional articles by Dustin Harris, visit his website.)

When it comes to the use of technology in real estate appraisal, we’re at a kind of crossroads.

On the one hand, you have the advocates who like to try out all the latest and greatest apps and gadgets. Those of you who have listened to my podcasts, read my blogs or seen my workshops know that I’m firmly in that camp. On the other side, you have the real estate appraisers who are wary of using new technology and prefer to do things in the same old way. With the average age of real estate appraisers around 62, maybe you can see why there are still a lot of people who think this way.

One of the best examples of where these two camps differ is over workfiles. The older trainers still like to do their sketches, their notes and so on using a pen and paper. I, as you can probably guess, do not. I use a mobile app, on my tablet, to carry out my appraisals in the field.

A huge reason that people don’t like to use mobile apps for their appraisals is because they think it will render their workfile void. Lots of real estate appraisers think you need handwritten notes to refer to. Let me clear this up right now: that is completely wrong. The USPAP guidelines say absolutely nothing about notes being handwritten. They simply say that you need to have a workfile, and that you need to be able to reconstruct the route you took in your appraisal. Mobile apps and other online storage solutions are a perfectly viable way of doing this.

Not only are they a viable way of making workfiles, I would also argue that they’re a safer way. Where do most paper workfiles usually get stored? In the office. So, what happens if there’s a fire in the office? All the workfiles go up in flames, literally! If the state comes knocking three years down the line, and they want you to explain one of your appraisals, you’re in big trouble.

By contrast, when your workfiles are all digital there’s almost no risk of losing them, as long as you’re smart about backing up. I personally store my business’s workfiles on two servers in the office, on two other cloud-based services, and on an external hard drive as well. If the entire networking infrastructure of the USA suddenly collapses then I’m in trouble, but until then I’d say that I’m probably good!

Combine the peace of mind you get from all those backups, with how easy these mobile apps are to use (when you’ve spent a little time with them), and the amount of time they save you (for myself, that’s an amazing 25 minutes per appraisal), and it’s a no-brainer. Mobile is a far more efficient, smarter way to create your workfiles. Once again, I want to emphasize that digital workfiles are just as legitimate as pen-and-paper workfiles.

This is yet another example of how using technology can make your real estate appraisal business more efficient and more effective, increasing the quality of your work in the long run and, of course, generating more revenue. For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode 010 – Is There A Workfile When You Appraise With Mobile?

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About Dustin Harris

Dustin Harris
Dustin Harris is a successful, self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and consultant. He also owns and operates The Appraiser Coach where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth. His free podcast can be listened to on iTunes and Stitcher. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children. He loves playing in the outdoors and watching movies indoors.

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