Are you Seriously Still Using Just One Monitor?


I shall never forget the day I walked into that appraiser’s home office in Garland, Utah and looked at his desk.  There was no computer to be found.  Just an oversized, beige typewriter.  “Where’s your computer,” I asked apprehensively?




“Oh, I am too old to learn that new, fandangled technology stuff.”




I was speechless. The year was 2002!  I know some of us are resistant to change, but this was a bit extreme.  Certainly, I will not compare using only one monitor in 2014 to clutching the past of paper and ink ribbon in 2002, but the case could be made that you might be a bit behind the curve if you have not yet set up a second monitor.




My firm is a paperless office.  That is a post for another day, but whether you are paperless or not, you should—at the very least—be using two (or more) monitors. Allow me to tell you why.




Appraisers (or their assistants) do a great deal of data entry.  Much of that data is simply transferred from one place to another.  We read information from a tax record or MLS sheet and enter it into the appraisal software. Unless you are using software like Datamaster® or mapping the data through export, you are looking at one thing and retyping it to something else.  Unless you have more than one monitor, that means you are either toggling back and forth between programs, or you are wasting a lot of ink and paper printing.  Dual monitors will solve that problem.



appraiser dual monitor


I have transitioned from dual monitors to triple monitors and am now exploring an even greater increase.  At least one appraiser in my Dream Team Mastermind program is using six monitors. Multiple monitors allow the use of the same computer, but the ability to see your appraisal software, your MLS or tax sheet, your email, your text addendum, and possibly your music or Netflix stream.




Setting up a second, third or sixth monitor is not hard.  Most people think you need to completely redo your computer’s hardware.  This is no longer the case.  With USB 3 and a good hub, you can set up monitors to run multiple programs without tragically affecting your overall CPU use.


I have coached many appraisers encouraging them to move to a minimum of two monitors.  In every case—without exception—they are glad they did and said they would never go back.  Dual monitors for appraisers is cheap, easy, and will save you a great deal of time and money.




Dustin Harris, Creating ‘Value’ for Real Estate Appraisers



24 thoughts on “Are you Seriously Still Using Just One Monitor?”

  1. Paul Herrington

    How does showing a Netflix stream increase your efficiency? If I got caught doing that on company time I would be reprimanded, and the second time I would be fired.

  2. My wife suggested I go to two monitors, but I haven’t….this post is probably the push I needed to try it out. It takes a miniscule amount of time to tab back and forth, but I’m sure it adds up to a lot of wasted hours in the course of a year. Thanks for the interesting posts, keep up the good work. Always interesting stuff that leads me to evaluate how I produce appraisals.

  3. I just added my 4th monitor since going paperless. I never thought I would have one turned on end either but I love it, every monitor has it use and aids in my ability to be productive.

  4. I do not see how having multiple monitors is that much different than have a few web pages open on tabs on my web brouser (like MLS, census tracts, flood maps, subdivision plats, etc.) at the same time.

    1. I agree with Jim. I can click from page to page. Why would it increase my efficiency to have more than one monitor?

      1. Each click takes time. Seconds add up to minutes and minutes add up to hours. Time is money. Not to mention having to find your tabs below and then opening them to find you clicked the wrong one and then having to re-open. Wasted time you will never get back. With [m] monitors you have all your windows open and in plain view. Speaking of wasted time….I need to get to work……

  5. I want to echo Dustin’s premise in this post. From a cost point of view, multiple monitors are the cheapest way to increase your productivity. You can now pick up good monitors over 20” in screen size for under $200.00. That’s two monitors for one appraisal. Wow! You can also pick up a video card that will run 3 monitors for under $100.00. As a matter of fact, computer parts in general are dirt cheap. In my opinion most appraisers are due an upgrade across the board.

    Let me make one very basic but big suggestion if you are thinking of adding an additional monitor. Make sure your new monitor(s) will rotate into [Portrait] mode. Not all do. You really need at least one that will though. It can be tough to get used to, but in the end being you will be able to view much more text without scrolling and that will make you more productive.

    I have been using 3 24” inch monitors now for about 2 years. It was the best investment I’ve made so far in my business. Like Dustin, I too am exploring even a great increase – have already purchased a multiple monitor stand to get my desktop cleaned up a bit.

    Think about being able to see all these without having to minimize something else to view it: report you’re working on; last report from the same area; sales contract; MLS; tax records; word document or text addendum for notes; sketch; and email.

    Great post Dustin. Thanks for what you do!

  6. I still have all the comparables and listings IN PAPER FORM in my file. I do not trust that in 5 years you get a Letter from the State and all that old technology will be adequate to duplicate an entire file from a CD back up.
    I print everything to paper for my own peace of mind. I have seen the messes and data lost Just from switching computers. YIPES! I also use a note sheet with every file. Jogging your memory is easier after you have written it down and saved it.

    Technology is great for all that is mentioned, but you still have to have the hard copy to retell the story accurately, if you have to explain it.

    1. Wow?!!? Have you ever heard of fire? Your paper files can easily be destroyed. Not so with paperless. All files are converted to PDF or image files and then stored at your site AND at a third party’s, like Dropbox, which in turn is storing those files in multiple locations. This system ASSURES the files are safe, hard copies do not. I am down to one piece of paper, yes, I still hand draw my subject sketch in the field, but it is scanned immediately when I get back to the office and the paper is thrown away. To keep paper files is as big a mistake as deciding you need to continually double check your calculator answers against your abacus.

    2. I agree.

      I use one monitor and keep paper workfiles of every report. And I’ll bet I am as efficient as any of these multi monitor guys in completing work. And I also still use a 100 ft fibreglas tape, the horror!

      I’ve got no use for storing files and such in any clouds either. And if I went paperless the environmental whack jobs wouldn’t have anything to complain about because no more trees would get cut down.

  7. One man office here. Have two 21″ monitors–one set up vertical (report) and a horizontal (MLS/data). I’ve thought about a 3rd monitor, but am concerned about losing the cursor, plus I am NOT paperless so I need a space for my notes/sketch. One more thing–I almost never type in comps—my software (Clickforms) will auto-import comps from MLS…..saves typing time (I can select 12 comps to consider in MLS and 60 seconds later they are all inserted into the report) , but more important is there are no typist-imposed errors. Import info doesn’t fill every block and there are some quirks getting blocks fill to UAD (garage especially (2ag1gbi2dw))…but the biggies, address/sales price/close date/lot size/age/sqft/#garages all auto-import.

  8. This year (my 30th as an appraiser) I went from two monitors to four 24″ (stacked 2×2) positioned horizontally. This is absolutely one of the best advances for appraisers ever, right up there with digital cameras, paperless office, laser measurer and internet appraisal delivery. Those who don’t take advantage of these advancements are leaving money on the table, money that’s there for the taking. Paperless also solves so many file management headaches and is a HUGE cost saver! I never use my printer anymore. In fact, dear wife uses it more than I do. I still use a 10×10 cross section paper for the inspection which gets scanned to the file then shredded. I’m waiting for complete digital inspection software to prove its worth before making that move (and it’s really close).

  9. I have three monitors, but not 100% paperless. I worked with two for a year, but do commercial & residential work and the 3rd was needed. One has web/mls, 2nd is Word or appraisal software and the 3rd is excel. Outlook bounces around from one to the other. I do struggle with work file verification/documents, but improving. No way I could go back to one monitor. Use WinTotal for residential and Narrative One for commercial. The 3rd monitor is a must for commercial.

  10. I use two monitors now. One point against them is the ergonomic one. The looking to the side sometimes kills my neck in the course of the day resulting in headaches. My error could be going horizontal as opposed to vertical with screens. Still the overall useful outweighs the occasional issue.

  11. I just upgraded to six monitors (two 32 inch, two 24 inch vert, and two 18 inch and have been paperless since 2004.

  12. My place of employment three jobs ago started me on dual monitors. I was hesitant, for all of a week. Now I can’t work without two monitors. I brought the idea to this company, and we are all on dual monitors, even the administrative assistants. I recently started at a new company, where dual monitors are not an option (thin-sets, not terminals), and was hobbling along with a dinky 17″ monitor. It was taking me hours to get my paperwork done. I brought in my own 25″ monitor from home, so I can open multiple documents on different parts of the screen. Cuts my paperwork time by at least 25%. go multiple, either vertical or big enough to display your text pages.

  13. This is not the ind of post you would expect from someone that is supposedly a thought leader. Monitors, taking off shoes?

  14. I am currently using three monitors and see the need to add one more. With Total I separate my Addenda right off the bat. Anytime I run into something I want to explain, I don’t have to remember to do that, or write it down and hope I remember, I put it where it belongs right when it is fresh in my memory. On the main monitor I have my report. The third monitor has all my MLS, Email, County Records etc. No more printing out a 20 page contract, comps or county data sheets. I open them, transfer the needed data and then save PDF version to my electronic work file. When the report is complete I replace the data monitor with the E & O check list, again seperated from the report in total. and then I can go though the report and see if changes are needed. If I see something I can switch to Addenda, say Comp #3 and say “I am aware that net adjustments exceed the guidelines and then an explanation. Never changing screens with anything, but my mouse sliding from screen to screen. The only way to go.

  15. Pingback: Are you Seriously Still Using Just One Monitor? | Appraisal Buzz

  16. The USPAP record keeping requirement are sometimes difficult to meet when large documents, maps, aerials, and other material cannot be scanned to a paperless file without use and expense of a graphics shop. They more often can be folded to file size and/or stored with a note in the file as to their location for future reference.

    With a large part of my practice devoted to litigation, I have had to turn over my entire file in discovery as well as appraisals performed on similar properties, according to court discovery orders. I would hesitate to ever give another party–especially an opposing counsel–access to my computers to confirm they have been provided with the entire file.

    There is also an intimidation factor presenting one or more file boxes at a deposition and letting the opposing counsel sort through it all. Handing counsel a disk to expedite the work may not be in the appraiser’s or the client’s best interest. There is also the impression that a file box (or more) has on the client, the two opposing counsels, and the judge and jury when they see how much work and effort has gone into the appraisal assignment. A disk would not have the same affect.

    These observations may be peculiar to litigation appraising and expert testimony, but they also come from 5 decades of forensic appraising and expert testimony. That being said, I always look forward to the day that I can destroy old paper cluttered files. The file rooms and file cabinets present both a rent and an equipment expense savings for those that can go paperless.

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