Appraisal templates can save you time, ensure consistency, and even help you comply with USPAP. They can also get you into trouble if you aren’t careful. Follow these quick tips to make the best use of your appraisal templates.
1. Use them!
Most appraisers are already using templates. But if you’re not, start today. In fact, we will go as far as to say that you should beware of anyone who says you shouldn’t use appraisal report templates. The benefits far outweigh the risks.
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2. Create multiple templates
Don’t rely on one template for all your appraisals. Create templates that are specific to different clients and/or assignment types (e.g., FHA, VA, USDA, conventional). If you regularly prepare appraisals for other types of intended use (e.g, divorce or estate), create a template for each one.
3. Rely on technology
Residential and commercial appraisal software—and even Microsoft Word—make whipping up a template simple and quick.
4. Make sure you’re using the right forms
Check your appraisal software program for General Purpose (GP) forms, which should be used for all non-lending appraisal assignments. Just note that report forms should be specific to the type of assignment being completed. For example, you would not want to use a URAR form for non-lending because it contains lots of pre-printed language about intended use, intended users, and Fannie Mae’s definition of market value, which might not be applicable in a non-lending assignment. The language can be countermanded if you make specific comments in the report, but the possibility of intended users being misled still exists.
Will a few typos or misspellings ruin your appraisal career? Probably not. However, they do seriously undermine your professionalism and suggest that you lack attention to detail. Take the time to ensure you are putting forth polished reports.
Use these tips for proofreading appraisal reports:
- Focus on your most recent edits. When you edit something, it’s easy to introduce new errors, such as missing or repeated words. Proof new content and comments two to three times after you edit them, but also home in on those areas again during your final proof.
- Read in a new format, if possible. For example, PDF the report, print it, and read and mark up a hard copy instead of proofing on your screen. The change in format can help you catch issues you missed.
- Read the content aloud. This old standby is one of the most effective ways to catch errors that your eyes skimmed over as you read silently.
6. Have someone else proof your templates
You should always proofread your own appraisal templates. But it’s also a good idea to ask a trusted colleague, peer, or supervisor to proof your templates as well. This will help ensure you don’t miss any errors. Offer to return the favor to whomever provides their assistance. Or, consider paying a professional proofreader to review your templates periodically to ensure mistakes don’t slip in. If neither of those are an option, at least put the report down and come back to it after several hours—preferably 24 hours—and proof it again with fresh eyes.
7. Don’t set it and forget it
With USPAP and client requirements always changing, you need to be updating your templates regularly—at least once a year, but twice a year is ideal. That way you can ensure that incorrect information and outdated references are removed.