Commercial Appraisal Software: Build, Buy or DIY?

In the dynamic world of commercial real estate appraisal, the age-old question of whether to build or buy commercial appraisal software continues to perplex mid-size firms and enterprise companies alike. Here’s what to look out for.
Frank LaDonna

Frank LaDonna

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Commercial Appraisal Software: Build, Buy or DIY?

In the dynamic world of commercial real estate appraisal, the age-old question of whether to build or buy commercial appraisal software continues to perplex mid-size firms and enterprise companies alike. The allure of creating a do-it-yourself (DIY) solution is undeniable, driven by the belief that the process is unique, costs will be lower, and the end product will be feature-rich. However, before diving headfirst into the world of custom software development, it’s crucial to dispel some common misconceptions. Let’s explore the three myths surrounding custom software development and determine whether it’s the right choice for your real estate appraisal business.

 

Myth 1: Our Process is Unique

It’s not uncommon for real estate appraisal teams to believe their processes are so distinct that only a custom-built solution can meet their specific needs. While every firm has its nuances, the reality is that many aspects of the appraisal process are standardized across the industry. A commercial appraisal software product like Realquantum comes equipped with a range of customizable features to accommodate various workflows. Before you dive into the DIY pool thinking it’s cheaper, do a full-scale cost-benefit analysis, covering both the short-term and the long-term expenses.

 

Myth 2: It Will Be Cheaper

The allure of cost savings is a significant driver behind the decision to build custom software. However, the development, maintenance, and ongoing support of a proprietary solution can quickly escalate costs. Commercial appraisal software vendors spread development expenses across many clients, making it more cost-effective in the long run. Additionally, these vendors typically undergo rigorous testing, reducing the likelihood of costly errors down the road. Before assuming in-house development is the more economical choice, conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, factoring in both short-term and long-term expenses.

 

Myth 3: We’ll Get More Features Since We Control It

The idea of having complete control over the software is undoubtedly appealing. However, this control comes at a price – the responsibility for ongoing development, updates, and maintenance falls squarely on your shoulders. Commercial appraisal software vendors invest in continuous improvement, ensuring their products stay current with industry trends, regulatory changes, and are inspired by input from all their customers. When building your own software, the burden of keeping up with these developments becomes your responsibility. Before deciding to build, consider whether your team has the resources and expertise to match the continuous innovation provided by specialized vendors.

 

Important Note: Time is Money!

If you choose to design your own software, it won’t be until the program is finished that you can enjoy the results of your labor. Time therefore carries an opportunity cost. To offset the delay in receiving the software, a custom solution must have an incredible return on investment.

 

How to Decide for Your Business:

 

  1. Assess Your Unique Needs: Conduct a thorough analysis of your appraisal processes to identify genuine unique requirements. If vendor solutions can be customized to meet these needs, it may be a more practical choice.
  2. Calculate True Costs: Consider not only the initial development costs but also ongoing maintenance, updates, and support. Compare these against the licensing and support fees associated with commercial appraisal software.
  3. Evaluate Vendor Solutions: Investigate existing commercial appraisal software solutions and their track records. Look for vendors with a reputation for customization and excellent support to ensure the software aligns with your business requirements.
  4. Consider Future Growth: Anticipate your firm’s growth and evaluate whether a custom solution can scale alongside it. Commercial software vendors often provide scalable solutions designed to accommodate expanding business needs.

 

While the idea of building your own commercial appraisal software may seem enticing, it’s essential to weigh the potential benefits against the realities of cost, ongoing maintenance, and the ability to keep pace with industry advancements. In many cases, opting for an established commercial solution proves to be a more practical and cost-effective choice, allowing real estate appraisal teams to focus on what they do best – appraising, rather than software development.

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