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What Realtors should know about desktop appraisals

Desktop appraisals may streamline the real estate transaction

Beginning next month, desktop appraisals will officially become a permanent option for loan transactions. This once temporary alternative – which came about in March 2020 at the onset of the pandemic – is becoming a viable, long-term solutions following the FHFA’s announcement last October.

What are the benefits for real estate professionals? To begin, desktop appraisals will help the entire real estate transaction process in several key ways.

Streamlining is always good

First, with the high volume of real estate transactions and the declining number of active appraisers throughout the country, any type of streamlining is going to benefit the industry in both the short- and long-term.

Desktop products are built around technology that enables appraisal professionals to work faster and more efficiently, which ultimately helps real estate professionals close deals more quickly. Due to the increased efficiency and time savings, appraisers should be willing to earn a smaller fee for their work. This cost savings is passed along to the end-user for a service that’s more efficient and accurate.

Alleviate potential bias

Beyond these points, there’s another critical issue that desktop appraisals help overcome – potential bias. Using a desktop appraisal product helps mitigate the risk of a discrimination claim since the appraiser doesn’t meet the homeowner, real estate agent, or other end-user in person. Having an accepted process that also happens to minimize this issue is a positive.

Pre-listing benefits

In addition to the overarching industry benefits, there’s reason you should pay special attention to desktop appraisals in that they can be highly beneficial for pre-listings.

Desktop appraisals deliver an efficient and accurate method for real estate agents to report on a property’s value and square footage before the property is listed, which means the buying or selling process will start off on the best foot possible and be supported by the best data possible.

For homes already listed, desktop appraisals provide many forms of streamlining and time-savings. In addition to not having to align schedules to meet an appraiser onsite, desktop appraisals can help move the buying or selling process forward significantly, speeding up the sales cycle by days or even weeks.

Talk with appraisers to understand if they are offering a desktop product, and if not, when they plan to do so. More importantly, discuss with lenders to determine which lenders will start to use the desktop products. Some lenders will lead with technology while leaning on the desktop appraisal, but some will stay in their antiquated ways and continue to provide full appraisals when not necessary.

We’re two years into the pandemic, and the recent development around desktop appraisals becoming permanent is a silver lining. We surely don’t know what tomorrow is going to throw at us – but knowing we all have access to a more streamlined, effective appraisal process is one factor we can count on to bring added efficiency, cost-savings, and better data in the years ahead.

Paul Ryll is the founder and owner of Oscar Mike Mobile Appraisals and Oscar Mike Appraisal Group.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of RealTrends’ editorial department and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Paul Ryll at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Tracey Velt at