If you are just about to start your commercial real estate appraisal business or you are already running your own firm, but you are tired of having to use a separate word processor, a spreadsheet program and various database subscriptions simultaneously to write your reports, you can now choose from many commercial real estate appraisal software solutions that can integrate and automate all those tasks for you. Each of the available software solutions take a different approach to helping you make the report writing process more efficient, so here are a few things that you should know about the available options before you make the final decision.
Desktop programs and cloud-based platforms – these are the two basic types of real estate appraisal programs. The functions and features offered are very similar with both types, the most important difference between them being the type of access you will have to use. If you choose a desktop version, you will be required to download the software on your computer, while web-based platforms can be accessed using your username and your password from any device connected to the internet. The files that you use for preparing your reports will also be managed differently depending on the type of your appraisal software – with desktop versions you will use the files stored on your computer, while with cloud platforms you will have the option to upload everything into the cloud and to open the files from your online storage space.
Fees and Rates
While both types of software solutions are quite affordable nowadays, you will find differences in the way that you pay for your access to the software. If you choose a desktop program, you will have to pay a larger sum upfront, when you purchase the program and you will be allowed to download the program after you complete the required payment. Cloud-based platforms usually grant access without requiring any upfront payment, access to the platform being subscription-based and requiring you to pay smaller, monthly sums.
Features and Functions
Whether desktop versions or cloud-based platforms, commercial real estate appraiser programs have a lot to offer:
- Customization options – most appraisers have very specific preferences when it comes to both the contents and the appearance of their reports. Appraisal programs offer the possibility to customize every aspect of the report preparation, from selecting the fonts, the layout and the structure of the report to the type of the document;
- Help with narrative reports – another great feature offered by the best programs is support for creating narrative reports. The programs can automate the task, making sure that the narratives are not redundant and are completely error-free;
- The programs can automate lots of other tasks related to report writing, such as data collection, image management, support for cameras and phones, mapping;
- Financial analysis is also much easier with the help of the cash flow projection and analysis functions that allow the user to create accurate forecasts and to finely tune the reports.
Most appraisal software providers offer free test runs, so you can download the software on your computer or use it for free for the trial period or you can get a test account if the chosen solution is a web-based platform, so you can try the product before you buy it.