What better way to talk about boosting productivity than to talk about the software you are using. Recently, I was talking to an appraiser in my Dream Team who had switched over from another company to a la mode. Since there are a lot of appraisers using a la mode, I thought I would share some of the helpful tips and tricks from of few of my clients Some of these I had never heard of until recently, but others I have been using for awhile and I can talk about them with you here, based on my experience.
Arguably one of my favorite features ever, which is not necessarily a feature limited to only a la mode software, as many alternative software platforms in the industry also have templates, but this is key. The fact that a template can be created for any scenario generally makes this feature a winner for me, currently, I have about 10 templates. I create these templates based on the type of appraisal, not based on the neighborhood, as there is sincerely no such thing as congruency in Idaho.
With a la mode you can start a new report and merge parts or all the information into that report. A typical example is an appraiser who intends to merge only the neighborhood section – a la mode ensures you the capability to do this, you can even merge some old comps from an old report.
In a la mode, you can save any comp you’ve entered and used before. If you set it to save automatically on default, it will save all the pictures you took and the information you entered, so if you ever have to use that comp again, you just have to start typing the address and “bing” it’ll show you that you’ve used that comp three other times, in three other reports and you’ll be able to import them. And if there are any discrepancies whatsoever (say you have C1 on one report and maybe C4 on another), the comp database is going to tell you that. To enable you just decide which one you intend to use and why. In plain English, the comp database saves so much time.
The Smart Adjuster
This is probably one of my biggest tips. In a la mode, you could have all your comps in one contiguous page i.e., side by side, so you don’t need to scroll down when you need to compare information between comp 1 and comp 4. To add icing to an already delicious cake, you can see all adjustments made on the comps themselves as they sit side by side.
When I’m in the comps side by side view, I can hit the smart adjust button, and this will allow me to input formulas and figures which affect the required changes based on my inputs and set conditions. Underneath the smart adjust is the detailed view, which by the way is an exceptional tool for those who have basements because it enables you make adjustments to the square footage, the finish and even the room count. Basically, you dictate the adjustments, you key in your required adjustments and it will effect your changes across the board.
The really cool thing with that, is you can save these preset adjustments as templates for future reports.
This feature isn’t new to the seasoned appraisers among us, however there is a feature within the feature which I can bet you are yet to hear about; the multi field quick lists. Let’s first take a look at the single field quick list. If you have a sentence or a paragraph which you would rather not have to type in over and over again, quick list displays these on the side of your screen for easy accessibility.
Now for the multi field section. Many appraisers have no idea that you can select a whole section, maybe the whole neighborhood section and instead of double clicking a quick list in all of those fields, you can actually select the first field, and then select shift, and then select the last field in that section and create a quick list of an entire section of your report. When you put it in, you simply have to have your cursor on the first line of the multi-field and double click the quicklist.
Here is how I used to do appraisal reports. I used to do everything in the grid, and then go down to the addendums, type out all the stuff I needed to explain, and then back again. The issue with this technique lies in a greater room for error due to your incessant skipping back and forth between screens.
With a la mode however, you can detach your addendum, slap it on monitor 2, compare information and make adjustments side by side along with other screens. In non-technical terms, you can explain why you made an adjustment just after you made the adjustment on the grid instead of having to hold the details in until after the main report is concluded.
The two little arrows on the top left of each page
I personally have never used this feature, but here’s how it works, clicking the arrows can shrink things to enable you have a look at everything all at once. This is obviously an indispensable tool during final reviews of your appraisal reports.
As mundane as it sounds, this can be the deciding factor with regards to just how tidy and professional your final report is. F10 basically moves all dimensions on your sketch to the outside walls rather than the inside walls, making for a cleaner and more professional look to your report.
Instead of having to carry a large calculator around, punching in .03 when trying to acquire a calculation of 3 percent, you can simply input “-%3” in the field where you intend to make such adjustment and let the software do the heavy lifting for you. I just found out about this 2 years ago myself, so no one is judging you for fiddling with a calculator while preparing appraisal reports.
I’ve never used this, so instead of confusing you, I’ll just explain how it works and you can go check it out yourselves at www.alamode.com. You can use this function for your narrative.
Let’s say you write something within the lines of “The list to sell ratio in this area is…….. therefore an adjustment was made in the grid for listings”
The cumbersome way to get this done would be to find that statement after you are done figuring it up and input that percentage (3%). Alternatively, you can use the insert function which will allow you to automatically insert that information into the narrative. Again, don’t ask, I just report what I have been told.
Sincerely, no one can underestimate the need for tabs. Tabs are available on the a la mode software, enabling easier navigation between sections. You can also jump to any page by using the “jump to” feature on the top left without having to click on desired tabs with your mouse.
If you’re not using a la mode, that is okay. Other software vendors provide similar/different features as well. The point is, find out what your software can do and utilize the features that will allow you to do more with less.
For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 296 – A Few Lesser Known a la mode Productivity Tips