I started my own firm, Austin Appraisal & Consulting, in 2012 and began working with LightBox shortly thereafter. A few years ago I started doing real estate auctions and became certified as an appraisal service provider in Virginia. We handle lending, litigation, and estate work, but I’m doing more lending work at the moment because there is a lot of demand and I want to take advantage of that.
What was your process of writing reports and how has it changed?
I’ve always believed in using technology to maintain a database and automate reports, so LightBox Valuation was a good fit. As a one man operation, I depend on LightBox Valuation to let me work as if I had a full team. It expands my capacity. There wasn’t much of a learning curve for me because I wasn’t switching from another product—I started my business using LightBox Valuation. It was very straightforward and simple.
How did you hear about LightBox Valuation?
There weren’t many offerings on the market when I started. Somebody I know who was using it showed it to me, and I was very impressed. It seemed to be the best solution available.
What challenges does LightBox Valuation helps you solve?
When I put in my comps and move them, all my data is there. I like the automation and the consistency of the reports, and the fact that LightBox Valuation is Web-based. When you change one part it changes globally throughout your report, allowing me to be consistent when reviewers look at my appraisal. Avoiding clerical and formatting mistakes boosts my credibility because I’m delivering a consistent product that looks professional. And my regular clients know there won’t be any surprises—when they open the appraisal they’re familiar with my format and they know where to look for what they need without wasting time. The reports are easy to read and review. This consistency is a great feature.
I recently did an appraisal for a large property. It was going to take a long time because it involved evaluating condos, none of which were exactly the same. I contacted LightBox and asked if there was a way to avoid duplicating work for each condo. Your team got right back to and told me exactly what to do. I was able to cut and paste a lot of information from various fields, including information in tables. The automation saved me a lot of manual work, and LightBox made that job easier—the customer service is top-notch no matter what the issue is. Your team knows exactly how to help me overcome whatever challenges arise.
So you would say using LightBox Valuation saves you time?
Yes, my system is scalable to handle whatever workload comes up. If a bank asks me to handle 12 appraisals in 45 days, I know it will be a lot of work, but also that I can compete with bigger players because I use a product that streamlines my workflow and makes me efficient. It’s a real time-saver.
Considering you have been using this platform for some time, would you recommend this platform to another colleague, and if so, what would you say?
I would definitely recommend it. I would tell people LightBox Valuation is a great product that is essential to my own work and that it will increase their efficiency and the consistency of their reports. For firms doing multiple appraisals and/or competing for bids, I would tell them there is a lot of functionality—you can track your bids and get the market analysis and data you need. You can go into a bid well prepared and deliver reports that will impress your clients and make them want to hire you again.