Manage Your Data, Don’t Let It Manage You!
How Are You Managing Your Data?
All successful appraisers know that they must develop an effective way to manage their data. Some appraisers have it all figured out, while others are trying to develop a system which will be usable and scalable as their business grows. Should the system be intended for a group of appraisers, rather than just one, it must be adaptable.
The importance of proper data storage can’t be overemphasized. As Gentry Lawson, SRA, states:
Data management is of the utmost importance, especially with the Uniform Appraisal Dataset (UAD) requirements. Appraisers are graded on the uniformity and consistency of their data. An appraiser can be blacklisted for not using the data uniformly and consistently.”Gentry Lawson, SRA
If your data is managing you and you’re ready to take back control and start managing your data, this article will get you started!
Appraisers must store their files for five or more years (depending on the circumstances) to conform to USPAP. As appraisers know, it’s typical for an appraiser to amass thousands of comps during the course of one year; after five years the sheer number of comps can be overwhelming if they aren’t organized and safely stored! Organization and reliable storage is a must for defensible files and peace of mind.
Any solid storage plan involves keeping the information in one centralized location. A computer hard drive dedicated for storage can be used for single appraisers and a server can be used for groups of appraisers. As the hard drive and server age and reach maturity, the storage systems can be updated and transferred to a new drive and/or server.
Cloud storage is not the wave of the future, it’s the reality of now. No hardware lasts forever, and the importance of using a back-up for your hard drives is immeasurable. There will inevitably be a hard drive crash, and a cloud back-up will act as a seat belt, preserving your ability to defend your files and saving your sanity! Of course, cloud storage can also used as an appraiser’s main storage, with a hard drive as back-up is desired (just for peace of mind, although cloud storage is extremely reliable). The two work in tandem, giving peace of mind to any appraiser.
There are many choices for cloud storage, and the options may seem overwhelming to the inexperienced user. Luckily we have experts who sort through the options and single out the best ones, saving us the hassle of trying out dozens of cloud storage companies ourselves!
Microsoft OneDrive received the highest score in a recent PC Magazine article, an impressive five out of five stars, the only cloud storage company to receive such a high rating. Having used OneDrive myself, I’ve found that it works wonderfully and lives up to its hype!
OneDrive is available for PCs, Macs, Androids, iOS, and Xbox. It integrates well with Microsoft Office and houses many features such as photo management, music streaming, real-time co-editing, and search.
There are other storage options out there such as CertainSafe Digital Safety Deposit Box, and Google Drive. Apple’s offering, iCloud Drive, is also an option but received lower marks in the study, partially because the drive is not available for Androids. These options can easily house all of the data an appraiser generates, and do so securely and reliably.
Some appraisers still keep a hard copy of basic appraisal information in old-fashioned filing drawers. While this method isn’t practical for storing all appraisal-related information, it is handy for keeping basic information handy such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and dates.
Some of us still prefer the feel of paper and the ease of flipping through an alphabetized list of folders. This may be an option that younger appraisers aren’t too keen on, but an option than many more seasoned appraisers still use.
Technology has increased the capacity and the ability to create secure, defensible files that can be stored by the appraiser. Appraisal software has been embraced wholeheartedly by many smart appraisers. Intelligent software has increased the ability for appraisers to complete far more appraisals than was possible just a few decades ago, and has enable appraisers to create files which are more defensible than ever.
Did you know that appraisal software can fill forms far faster than human fingers can type (around 28,000 words per minute) and with more accuracy? Software also gives the option of producing more visually appealing reports, with graphs, photos, and well-organized and aligned formats.
Believe it or not, there is a software which saves previous comps for appraisers, enabling appraisers to cut time in manually looking up those comps and assuring a more defensible file by alerting the appraiser that particular comps have been used before.
Gentry Lawson commented on a soon-to-be-released feature, Comptracker, from the leading software company, DataMaster:
If I reuse a comparable sale, I have to be consistent on how I rate the location, view, quality and condition. As an appraiser I use thousands of comparable sales every year. It is impossible to remember how I rated each and every comparable. Therefore, data storage software becomes an essential part of my workflow.
CompTracker is used to track the prior use of a comparable sale. Comp Tracker has saved my bacon several times by indicating a prior use of a comparable and indicating what UAD ratings I assigned to that comparable.
If the appraiser is using Comptracker’s impressive data-share feature then that appraiser’s comments and values on the same comp will be available for inspection by the user and any other appraiser in their share circle.
Comptracker is only one of the features of DataMaster. With the capabilities of saving appraisers one to two hours per appraisal, DataMaster is the elite appraisal software of the future. Appraising will never be the same, and news of this software (which was created by an appraiser!) continues to spread across the United States as more and more appraisers take advantage of the software and the amazing options which it gives to appraisers, including organized, reliable storage!
Organized Data Storage Is Possible!
Storing data will always be an issue for appraisers. As software advances, wise appraisers will keep up with the changes. Hard drives, the cloud, and the smart appraiser’s best friend, DataMaster, have given appraisers great capacity to complete more appraisals and the ability to store the information in an organized, secure way. We can’t wait to see what offerings the future holds for appraisers!