The technological foundations of the real estate appraisal industry



Technology is present in more and more areas. It helps streamline procedures, simplify bureaucracy and make certain unusual but mandatory processes more bearable. This is the case of appraisal activities, a necessary procedure before making a sale of a property if the formalization of a mortgage mediates.

The ‘big data’, the blockchain and other technologies can be very useful for this activity, and there are increasing examples of ‘proptech’ (startups related to the real estate activity) that explore this niche. But keep in mind that not the entire process can be digitized or created automatically through the internet. The digital tools for this procedure have increased, but digitization has not ended with the mandatory visit of the professional appraiser to the home. That is, the ‘automatic appraisal’ does not exist as a concept, but what is offered are, according to the director of the Market Area at the Appraisal Society, Jacob Cabañas, estimates subject to corroboration by a professional of the data entered by the user and other series of circumstances that may affect the value and that are not taken into account in this type of tool. Anything that does not involve a visit from the appraiser is considered an estimate, since the value may change depending on the state of the property, verified by the professional at the time of the appraisal.

What technology has done is facilitate the work of the appraisers at the time of the inspection. To create their reports they use digital tools and now also, thanks to different startups, they allow the appraiser to leave unambiguous proof of details that can be lost. In this way, greater security and precision are provided that are used in the appraisal report.

For this, Visualeo was born, a Spanish company that uses an app to take photographs and videos to demonstrate with blockchain technology that these photos have been taken in a specific place, date and time. They cannot be uploaded edited or from the phone gallery, but must be done at the moment. “It is as if an appraiser was accompanied by a notary,” explains Pedro Martín, CEO of the company, since the app confirms that what the appraiser has indicated is as described.

This is not only a guarantee for the professional but also for the client. It is a way of highlighting the state of the house. An eyewitness who “puts irrefutable data on the table, such as whether there is humidity in a certain place,” explains Martín, thus leaving the door to possible negotiations or arrangements before the sale process. In other words, it is “a deterrent to a possible trap.” An application that comes at a time, in the words of Martín, in which there is more fear of uncertainty, so it gives people more peace of mind to have documents with the highest possible value.

In which the appraisal activity has evolved is in the entire process prior to the appraiser going physically to the property. Companies such as CBRE have positioned themselves in this, which describes its appraisal website as “revolutionary”, since they offer the contracting and prior budget of the appraisal over the internet. This appraiser, certified by the Bank of Spain as official, has developed a platform that allows the client to manage the appraisal at any time and at any time, always with the aim of making the appraisal process simple. In a matter of hours, explains the Head of Digital Valuation & Advisory Services of CBRE, Tomás Sánchez Colomer, the client will receive the appraiser at his home and will have the validated report in digital format.

In this process, although for the end customer it may seem simple, legal technologies, ‘fintech’ -related to finance and technology-, ‘proptech’ -the data related to the ‘real state’ – and all the technology related to geospace. “Different digital ecosystems come together to remove all those steps that took time away from the user,” adds Sánchez. This, in his opinion, three years ago was unthinkable. And the truth is that, among other variables, they are connected to the cadastre, so once the client enters the address of their home when hiring the appraisal, CBRE can know the characteristics of the apartment, which allows them to give a initial budget to the client. “Technology is helping us automate processes with the aim of solving the process for the customer as soon as possible,” he continues.

Massive valuation

Technology has also made possible what are known as ‘bulk portfolio valuation’ procedures, which generally employ so-called ‘Automated Valuation Models’. They are, as ST Sociedad de Valuation explains, computer tools that, from the treatment of market databases, apply algorithms and / or mathematical-statistical procedures to provide individual values ​​to elements of a real estate portfolio, whose characteristics have been previously informed by the appraisal applicant, generally financial entities.

This system is used by CBRE with the banking part helping them to make an assessment of their entire property portfolio. For banks, says Sánchez, it is essential that the appraiser adjust as much as possible to the value that can be given when appraising it. And if you have a portfolio of 3,000 homes and you want to compare them, it would be impossible to go to each of the homes to value them. That is why digitization and having the best technologies are so important.

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