Real Estate Appraisal Solutions

The ability to mine and leverage the vast amount of information in property appraisals is a critical business advantage. There are many appraisal software applications that capture the data entered by appraisers nationwide. Each vendor defines and stores data differently and with a wide variety of data quality. PDSA's technology has created an appraisal import, data transformation, and data persistence approach to construct an appraisal data repository. The repository can now be used to produce a vast amount of business intelligence reports.

Real estate appraisal, property valuation or land valuation is the practice of developing an opinion of the value of real property, usually its market value. The need for appraisals arises from the heterogeneous nature of property as an investment class: no two properties are identical, and all properties differ from each other in their location - which is the most important determinant of their value.

The appraisal practice is regulated and standardized. Several software companies have created tools to help appraisers develop and create appraisals. Two very popular software vendors in this field are ACI and 'a la mode, inc'. Each vendor supports all the necessary forms for appraisers to fill out. These are all great tools. But if we think of the downstream process where organizations may later want to report, analyze, conduct business intelligence against this data, then you must properly prepare the data for it to have any value.

The data inputting and quality of appraisal data is, at times, weak. For example, a zip code may be entered as the word 'same' implying the 'same' as the subject property. But if this data was entered into a database for reporting purposes it would be considered an invalid zip code. Each vendor has chosen their own data model to capture the necessary data. Hence, there will be differences between vendors but most data may be similar. To solve this problem, mappings must be defined so as to map a field from one vendor into the same field from the other vendor. Our data model has 50+ tables and 3,800+ fields!

The appraisal software allows the appraisal to be exported in XML. XML, in combination with other standards, makes it possible to define the content of a document separately from its formatting, making it easy to reuse that content in other applications or for other presentation environments. Unfortunately the structure of the XML between vendors is different. Our challenge therefore was to define a generic data model and provide the intelligent mapping engine to map all of the XML elements from any vendor into the appropriate database table and field. XML is a great tool, but since each vendor defined their own XML data model, we needed to provide the intelligent mapping engine to 'normalize' the data for enhancing its usage.

An element of mapping and scrubbing the data is also to apply geocoding technology. Geocoding may sound easy but it has many complexities. Difficulties arise when distinguishing between ambiguous addresses such as 742 Evergreen Terrace and 742 W Evergreen Terrace or you are attempting to geocode new addresses for a street that is not yet added to the geographic information system database. Hence, it is important to use a company such as PDSA which has a rich experience in producing the highest hit rate possible based on your particular needs. We've even found that using the same address and calling different geocode services sometimes yield different addresses in completely different areas, so we need to examine the results to select the more reasonable one. We've also found that the same service may return more than one address, leaving it up to the consumer to decide which is best for their use.

The appraisal repository is the database that houses all of the appraisals that were imported by using our technology. Now that the data has been normalized, scrubbed and prepared for use, others can now develop report queries against the data. For example, show me all appraisals that were performed in zip code 92780 between January 1, 2009 and January 30, 2009 with 3 or more bedrooms. Now your team can present numerous questions to do the necessary 'mining' for valuable information to accelerate your business.

Are you becoming overwhelmed by your appraisal load?

Contact us for a free demonstration and learn how PDSA can help you!

Contact Us