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August 24, 2023

The Evolution of Appraisal Technology: Navigating Tectonic Shifts in Our Industry

A Brief History

For decades, the appraisal industry has been characterized by both its reliance on human expertise and a thirst for technological advancement. Remember, not too long ago, appraisers in the '80s and '90s relied on transfer sheets to add arrows to location maps, indicating where the subject property was. The art of appraisal then was tactile and manual—from waiting for film to develop to picking up the film, sorting through the photos, and using double-sided tape to incorporate them into reports.

While we have come a long way and technology has shaped how we collect, analyze, and present data, the human element remains irreplaceable. But what happens when technology evolves to the point where it begins to understand the complexities that make each appraisal unique? As an industry professional, you’re not just a valuation machine—you’re an investigator, a market analyst, and a historian all rolled into one. Let’s look back, analyze our journey and discuss what comes next.

The Past: Man and Machine, Getting Rid of Paper Forms

In the nascent stages of appraisal technology, digitalization was primarily about converting handwritten appraisals into typeface. Software solutions like basic form-filling tools automated the task but were essentially digital paper forms—stagnant and unresponsive. This was an era of mere transference, not transformation. While these innovations made life easier, they rarely addressed the intricate aspects of valuation—local knowledge, historical context, and market trends—that appraisers had always integrated into their assessments. We became faster but not necessarily better.

The Middle Ground: From Forms to Functions

The transition into the early 21st century saw technology expand its purview from digitization to data management. Appraisal software began to feature multiple valuation models and offer basic analytics. For the first time, appraisers could pull data from various sources into a single platform. However, despite these advances, the tech solutions still lacked the finesse to capture the subtleties that separate a good appraisal from a great one. Our industry needed tools that didn't just compile data but understood it—a need that was only partially met.

The Present: Useful, but Not Revolutionary

In the current phase, we have software that goes beyond mere calculations. These robust platforms can manage diverse data sets, automate workflows, and even integrate with MLS databases. However, these solutions often still miss the mark on customization and flexibility. As seasoned professionals know, each appraisal is as unique as a fingerprint, requiring its own approach and methodology. While the tech we use now is highly functional, it often lacks the intuitive understanding of an appraiser’s nuanced needs.

The Future: The Promise of Aloft Toolkit

Aloft Toolkit is not just another incremental step in this journey; it is a leap. It’s designed to align with the new UAD framework while giving you the flexibility to go beyond mere compliance. Toolkit's capabilities are groundbreaking—from running intricate paired cost analysis in minutes to managing multiple adjustments simultaneously in an elegant, user-friendly interface. Imagine software that works with you, learning from your expertise and facilitating an environment where human intuition and machine efficiency coexist.

Moving Forward

As we approach the launch date on September 17th, it’s vital to remember that the best technology amplifies human skills—it doesn't replace them. With Aloft Toolkit, we aim for a revolution that honors the appraiser’s role in the industry. We’re creating a tool that understands you, your challenges, and the quality you strive for in your work. So, as we count down to this transformative moment, we invite you to join us in shaping the future of appraisal technology.

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