Streamlining your appraisal workflow to save time and improve efficiency can help you boost productivity and increase your earnings. A great way to do this is by hiring an assistant to handle specific tasks, and utilizing time-saving strategies to refine your own workflow. Whether you’re looking to earn more money or gain more free time, here are six things you can do to trim your process and save time on every appraisal assignment.
1. Hire an appraisal assistant
Traditionally, some appraisers have had “typists” type their reports. However, an assistant can do more than simple typing. These are some tasks that an appraisal assistant could handle:
- Email and/or phone management, including fee and turn-time quoting
- Subject property public data, preliminary research, file creation
- Scheduling appointments
- Compiling search and market-study data, per your instruction
- Researching and/or inputting subject and your comparable data
- Proofreading, organizing, and QC-checking the report
- Delivery of the report
2. Use a mobile app for inspections, rather than desk typing
Use a mobile app for your appraisal inspections (e.g., TOTAL for Mobile, which is popular among appraisers). It may take 5 more minutes in the field, but it saves 15 to 30 minutes at your desk. Use all the app’s features to your benefit (photos, sketch features, standard responses, voice-to-text, built-in checklists, required fields). Load all subject photos into the app instead of taking the time to email them or upload them to Dropbox. And be sure to finish the sketch and text areas while you’re there in the field.
3. Keep one day a week as an office-only day
Reserve at least one day per week as an office-only day. This can be a real game-changer. You would not believe how much more efficient and productive you can be on a day when you are not going out to any properties.
On the days when you do go out, minimize driving time by scheduling all appointments (inspections, comp photos, etc.) either back-to-back first thing in the morning or back-to-back at the end of the day. If you’re visiting rural or remote properties, try to schedule them all in one day.
4. Reduce email distractions, status updates, etc.
Check emails at specific times throughout the day (e.g, every 3 hours or between every assignment). Otherwise, do not have the email open on your computer or phone. To reduce distractions and keep yourself focused on the assignment at hand, do not have Facebook, other social media sites, or other “pop-ups” and “alerts” open. It’s also a good idea to encourage the use of email and portal communication versus phone calls.
5. Reduce re-driving for comp photos
Take at least some comp photos at the same time you inspect the subject property. Pre-pull possible comp sales and bring them with you to the inspection. Or do remote research on your laptop or mobile device while you’re still in the field. You don’t have to lock in your comps right then; you may end up having to drive back later for additional comp photos. But it’s worth it to go ahead and take some comp photos while you’re there. Even a 15-minute re-drive wastes a half hour.
6. Reduce revision requests
A revision will waste 15 minutes minimum. To reduce revision requests, track your clients’ common questions, and include that information in all reports when applicable. If you work for a lot of different lenders or do a lot of appraisals for lending-related purposes, those clients and intended users are probably asking some of the same questions over and over. For example, if your clients often ask about septic, go ahead and include a comment about the septic system in your initial report. In other words, answer the question before they ask it.
For more time-saving tips and insights on how to refine your appraisal workflow, watch the recorded webinar, “Time Is Money,” presented by Joshua Walitt—exclusively available to Unlimited Learning Members.