Think Before You Jump

As the world progresses to a more tech-savvy universe, it has been predicted that robots will eventually take over many of the jobs humans do today. The job of the appraiser cannot be replaced by technology but that does not stop the growth of digital software programs designed to assist appraisers in their daily tasks.

The goal of these programs is to provide the appraiser with the necessary data they would need to complete the assignment in just one click – rather than using multiple sources. We sat down with Erik Wind, President of GeoData Plus to better understand where the industry is headed.

Buzz: Erik, thank you so much for joining us today. Can you give us a little background into GeoData Plus and how the application works?

Erik: GeoData Plus was started 18 years ago. I started working there in 2002 as one of the first employees. When GeoData Plus started, it was primarily a desktop application. We mailed you a CD Rom that had to be installed and the server was located in somebody’s basement.

It sounds antiquated, but back then we were cutting edge. In 2000, companies like us were delivering property data weekly or monthly on floppy discs or the appraiser had to go to the courthouse to find this information. Originally, our coverage was Long Island and New York City.

Now, we cover 50 States. We still provide sold comps, and our property data is tremendously more comprehensive.  There’s no desktop application, it’s a website you can use from a computer, tablet, smartphone – pretty much any device that has a web browser.  And we have thousands of real estate customers that rely on GeoData Plus on a daily basis.

Buzz: Wow, that is very impressive. So, from the beginning to now, it is clear appraisers have adopted to technology more and more. Do you think it has come out of necessity?

Erik: While this observation is probably not unique to the appraisal business, I find newer appraisers are quicker to adopt technologies, whereas appraisers who have been in business a long time are more likely to stick to what they know.  They have a system, they’re comfortable, and they need a good incentive to change what they’re doing. 

As for being a necessity, I think it’s more an incentive. Appraisers, like in any other business, have those who are quick to jump on new technology and have others who are not going to adapt to these changes any time soon for a variety of reasons: stubbornness, upcoming retirement, or more valid business reasons. If you use the idea of a bell curve, those two extremes fall outside of the standard deviation.  Appraisers inside the bell curve are going to adapt to technology at a pace somewhere between soon and eventually, based on incentive.

Incentives can be positive and proactive such as recognizing a way to add value to their clients or being more efficient. Negative, or reactive incentives often come from outside of their business, such as a client telling them to adopt this new technology or they’ll go somewhere else. Change needs some kind of catalyst.

Buzz: So, do you think that is why there has been such growth in the use of these programs?

Erik: While it would be nice to think that more people work off of positive incentives, human beings tend to react more to negative incentives, of which any appraiser can tell you, there have been plenty of those.

In regards to the growth of GeoData Plus, we’ve grown because we have a practical technology that helps appraisers do their job better.  We’re not “disrupters”.  We recognize that the world changes in small steps, and we’d like to think we’re bringing our clients to that next step. 

Buzz: What would you tell appraisers who are hesitant to adopt to technology?

Erik: I would sum it up to two key points…

  • Change on your own terms. Don’t wait until you have to change or else. Not every technology is going to give you an edge, but there are plenty of tools out there that will.
  • Set your expectations carefully before diving into a new technology. What are you hoping to accomplish? What pain point are you trying to address? The scope of work applies to more than just appraisals. Does this new technology specifically address it? Is there an opportunity to try the service without committing everything you have?

Buzz: Erik, thank you for joining us today. We appreciate your input!

Erik: Thank you! 

If you would like to submit an article to the Appraisal Buzz, please contact us at comments@appraisalbuzz.com.

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About Erik Wind

Erik Wind
Erik Wind is the president of GeoData Plus. Erik has a unique blend of expertise, having both a background as a software engineer and a real estate practitioner. Prior to GeoData Plus, Erik founded multiple software companies, with a focus on real estate technology. Erik was named in National Mortgage Professional Magazine’s 40 under 40 in 2012 and 2015.

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