Female appraiser in modern empty office using tablet as appraisal technology tool

What ONE Appraisal Technology Tool Makes Your Life Easier?


Technology is constantly changing the appraisal industry. Learning how to adopt—and adapt to—the new technologies can help you become more efficient and generate more income. But which tools are worth investing in? To find out, we asked real estate appraisers, “What ONE technology tool makes your life easier as an appraiser?” Keep reading to learn which tools are favorites among your fellow appraisers—and hopefully discover a new appraisal technology tool to leverage in your own business.

What ONE appraisal technology tool makes your life easier?

Here are nine different appraisal technology tools that our survey respondents named as being the number one tool that makes their job easier on a day-to-day basis:

  1. Laser measurer
  2. Computer (with multiple monitors)
  3. Online data / internet access
  4. Smartphone / cell phone
  5. A la mode / TOTAL for Mobile
  6. Other appraisal software tools and apps
  7. Tablet / iPad
  8. Digital camera
  9. Mapping technology (GPS, GIS)

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Laser measurer

“My laser measure! Makes measuring houses a breeze.”

“The laser measurer! Currently am using a Bosch laser measurer but started out with a less expensive one to give it a try. Laser measurers really come in handy for interior second floor measurements.”

“Laser measuring tape/device is such a time saver! Not every home is vacant…the laser measuring device allows you to navigate throughout the subject rather vacant or cluttered. In just a few uses there will be no interior measurement that you can’t get! If there’s a small portion of the wall visible…you can measure it! It the best! Such a game changer!”

Computer (with multiple monitors)

“Computer—it does it all.”

“Desktop computer with three monitors!”

“Having a fast computer with a good graphics card, a nice work environment, and three monitors is really the best investment.”

“Gotta have multiple monitors. Forms on one, MLS info on another, public records or supporting data on another.”

“This question is a ‘no brainer’ for appraisers with 25 or more years experience. Not all, but many appraisers today do not remember the time when appraisal reports needed to be typed on a typewriter. It was common that reports had misspellings, but just as bad was the inability of the appraiser to easily modify comments and the inability of the appraiser to expand comments to create a superior appraisal report product. Before computer software, appraisal report changes required a complete re-typing of the appraisal report. Also, appraisal reports needed to be mailed or delivered by carrier. Did I mention the time and $ spent on photo film, film development and the cost of secretarial employees? Millions of people have been working from home the past 12+ months because of the COVID pandemic. But thanks to the computer, as an appraiser I have been able to operate from a home office for over 25 years.”

Online data / internet access

“The evolution of online data from micro-fiche to cd-rom on monthly basis and now to instant access to ‘almost’ infinite data and photos. The online data is extremely helpful and time saving. Even as far as retrospective appraisals and reviews, the past history of data being available is so helpful. It is one of the best technologies for the appraisal profession.”

“Remember the days when you had a shoe box full of MLS cards and you would have to always file in any new listings and sales? Very time consuming.”

“Access to public and private online databases for sales information and recorded documents has made my process considerably more efficient.”

“In the past it could take hours of our workdays to first commute to the courthouse and then pull needed PVAs, and commuting to Board of Realtors to pick and search through multitudes of home listings could be very time consuming. Now all that information is at our fingertips!”

Smartphone / cell phone

“My cell phone—it’s no longer just for communication. I use it of course to take calls, but I also use it to take photos, for research, emails, calculations (HP 12C app), reminders, keeping track of appointments, Siri helps me locate subjects and sales, an app to confirm coordinates for clients, etc. I hear there are apps to aid in measuring, but for now I will keep using my trusty old 200′ tape.”

“With my Samsung Galaxy Note 10 smartphone I am able to multitask at a much higher level working in my appraisals. I use it for every aspect of my appraisal work.”

“My iPhone keeps me connected to clients’ phone calls, realtor calls, homeowner/borrower calls, email and appraisal orders. I can search for comparable properties with my phone, look up assessor info and other data, I can take verbal notes, and my software app is on my phone so I can complete inspections without paper and upload to the cloud when I’m done. Additionally, there is a measuring app on the phone in case I can’t find my laser tool. My smartphone is an absolute necessity as an appraiser.”

A la mode / TOTAL for Mobile

By far, the most popular appraisal software tool among our survey participants is TOTAL for Mobile by a la mode. 10% of respondents specifically named a la mode, TOTAL for Mobile, or another TOTAL solution as being the ONE technology tool that makes their life easier as an appraiser.

“The TOTAL by a la mode mobile app! So much easier to use that app on my phone. It simplifies the process of taking photos, completing the digital sketch, and typing out my notes on the property. It’s a lot quicker and much more efficient than the traditional pen and paper method.”

“I recently switched to using the TOTAL mobile app for my inspections, and I save myself at least an hour of work on each appraisal!”

“With TOTAL, the integrated technology allows for a seamless transfer of data from the field inspection to the office report writing.”

Other well-loved appraisal software tools and apps

Besides a la mode and their TOTAL solutions, other specific software tools named by appraisers who participated in our survey include:

  • Spark / Spark app
  • HomeView inspection tool
  • Valcre
  • DataMaster
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Power BI

Additionally, some appraisers mentioned a general type of software, without naming a specific brand or tool. Their answers include:

  • Appraisal software
  • Form filling software
  • Proprietary report generating software with database
  • CAMA system
  • Demographics tools

“Spark is a great time saving tool.”

“Power BI is an incredible tool for visualizing data. Much faster than Excel and better visualizations—including maps.”

“Integra Realty Resources has had our own narrative report generating software for well over a decade. We built our own industry-leading database from the ground up.”

Tablet / iPad

“The ease with which I can inspect a property, take pictures, notes and draw the sketch on the iPad onsite, and download to work on at the office make it so much simpler than a pad and pen.”

“It’s easier to be able to use an iPad to take photos and make notes as you’re doing your inspection and comparable and have it all dumped into your report when you get home!”

Digital camera

“Taking my camera with me allows me to have a visual presentation for my reports as well as being used as guide lines for my sketch of the house.”

Mapping technology (GPS, GIS)

“Without my phone GPS, I would get lost on country roads during comparable inspections.”

What’s your favorite appraisal technology tool? Join the conversation! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Or, sign up for our newsletter to get a new survey question in your inbox each month.