By Patrick Walsh, BBG Director of Information Technology
Appraisers ought to be among the most tech-savvy players in commercial real estate, because the appraisal process is one that at every stage stands to benefit from technological innovation. There are, in fact, emerging technologies that are driving efficiencies in the profession. At many companies tried and true technologies such as Microsoft Word and Excel are being pushed to their limits to increase efficiencies, while appraisers continually seek newer technologies to make report writing more efficient. Improved productivity not only increases client satisfaction but also the appraiser’s own job satisfaction and earning power.
Clients want thorough, objective, error-free reports, and they want them fast. BBG appraisers consistently meet and exceed expectations by embracing emerging technologies, including:
- Appraisal report templates that database and auto-populate certain data fields
- Integrable cloud-based property databases, accessible from anywhere
- Big data management capabilities including searchability, geocoding and predictive analytics
Leveraging big data streamlines the appraisal process, reducing to seconds complex analyses that used to take hours. Integrated cloud-based property databases offer the ability to drag-and-drop existing data instead of retyping it; build photo libraries; and automate parts of report creation.
Automated valuation technologies aren’t meant to replace an appraiser’s experience and judgment, as they in no way reduce the process to a few keystrokes. It’s up to the appraiser to interpret the data and determine which are relevant to a property’s value, and to what extent. BBG appraisers bring to the table a deep knowledge of local markets and data analysis to ensure reliable value estimates.
Off-the-shelf or proprietary report-writing templates that integrate with databases are an evolving technology. BBG customizes templates to integrate with third-party platforms such as Fuel Valuation and our vast and growing database of lease-, property-, and portfolio-level data.
The Next Generation of Appraisers
Another compelling reason for commercial real estate appraisal companies to be open to new technologies is the significant recruitment power associated with tech-forward workplaces, particularly in recruiting and retaining younger professionals. Appraisal firms that use outdated technology are at a competitive disadvantage all the way around, including talent acquisition. The younger generation that has grown up with advanced technology at every stage of their lives expects to have the latest technology at their disposal.
Technology enables appraisers to write well-supported reports faster, with fewer errors and greater confidence. When applied correctly advanced appraisal technologies can enhance appraisers’ livelihoods and lead to stronger work/life balance.