Company details

Company type: Commercial real estate
Location: Fully remote with a significant presence in New York and Los Angeles
Valuation focus: Financial institutions, Right-of-Way, Eminent Domain, Litigation
Number of appraisers: 11

Background

Cogito Realty Partners is a commercial real estate firm focused on delivering reliable valuations and excellent customer service. The tight knit, collaborative team is constantly striving to be at the top of their game – whether that be through investing in continued education to further their appraisers’ credentials, or staying ahead of the latest innovations to help their team work as efficiently as possible. They are agile and adaptable, and the firm’s leaders are focused on developing the next generation of commercial real estate valuation and business leaders.

Cogito has been a Valcre client since the company’s inception, with leadership having used Valcre at a previous company. Senior Director Nora Derian, MAI, and Associate Jake Corriea are two Cogito appraisers who embody the company’s commitment to excellence. Both daily users of Valcre, they spoke to us about how they are using the appraisal software to deliver better appraisals, faster.

Life before Valcre:
Appraisers were held back by an inefficient, error-prone process

Before using Valcre, Nora describes the appraisal process as “horribly inefficient.” Armed only with spreadsheets and documents, she estimates that it took double the amount of time to research and write reports than it should have.

These inefficiencies were particularly painful in the following aspects of the process:

It was difficult to find relevant, accurate comparables

Before Valcre, Nora had no database she could go to to find property comparables. Instead, she had to remember properties that were similar and use them as a starting point. However, frustratingly, the comp data wouldn’t actually be in those reports. Instead, Nora had to find the first property the comp was used in, and then follow it from job to job to make sure that the information had been transferred accurately. And when she created a new worksheet, most often the cells wouldn’t be the same and formulas wouldn’t work, requiring a huge amount of time and work to clean it up.

Writing reports was manual and error-prone

When writing reports, a similar process would ensue: Nora would have to find a relevant job and use that template as a starting point. Once she had entered her information, she would need to comb through the document, checking for any residual information from the old job. Errors were always a concern – after finishing the initial analysis in Excel, she needed to dedicate hours to review to make sure the data was truly correct. And even worse, if the file crashed, there was no backup and she couldn’t reimport the comps. She’d have to start all over again.

Minimal team collaboration slowed everyone down

Without a central place to track ongoing jobs, Nora had no easy way of knowing what her colleagues were working on, or if they had any similar projects with comparables she could leverage – she had to ask each team member individually. This resulted in inefficiencies and missed opportunities across the team.

Life with Valcre:
Cogito’s appraisers are turning appraisal reports around 50% faster

“Without exaggeration, I would say using Valcre has cut down the time it takes to appraise and write the appraisal of a property by 50%.

Valcre is our best friend in the appraisal process, I can take on more work without necessarily working more hours and just doubling my output. And as appraisers, for the most part, we’re paid based on how many reports we can put out, on a commission structure, so the math is pretty simple there as to why it makes sense to use Valcre,” says Nora Derian.

With Cogito’s leadership having used Valcre at a previous firm, the decision to implement Valcre establishing Cogito was a no-brainer. “When we were starting Cogito, there was no question that we would be using Valcre because it worked so well for us in the past,” says Nora.

Using Valcre, the Cogito team are delivering appraisals 50% faster for their clients, when compared to inefficient, manual methods experienced in prior roles. Cogito’s appraisers are doubling their output, giving themselves the opportunity to meaningfully increase their commissions.

As soon as an appraiser is assigned a job, they import all of the property information from the engagement letter into Valcre. From there, it flows directly into Excel and the appraiser can get to work, enabling them to focus where their expertise lies – forming opinions of value – rather than on manual data entry.

“Because of Valcre, I can get two, almost three reports done in a day. It’s super efficient, and lets me get my job done as efficiently and quickly as possible,” says Jake Corriea.

With Valcre, Cogito’s appraisers can now:

Easily find and use accurate, verified comparables

Before they look for fresh comparables or market research, the team checks the Valcre database to see what comps are available from previous projects the team has worked on. They can then import these comps into their current projects instantly, with the knowledge that they are accurate and verified.

“Being able to re-use the information, knowing it’s all verified and correct already, and being able to find it so easily, that’s one of the top things I look forward to when using Valcre,” says Jake.

Better still, Valcre’s comparable set feature (e.g. “Upper East Side, Retail, Ground floor, $200 per sf”), means the team can pull in groups of relevant comps in one click, cutting down considerable research time.

Confidently produce error-free appraisal reports

Once they’ve completed their research, with one click, the team is seamlessly able to transfer their property analysis from Excel into a Word report, with complete confidence that all of the information is correct. Important data (such as net income) are imported through links, which, when modified in Excel, automatically update throughout the Word document. This completely removes the need for Cogito’s appraisers to review the report for mistakes and erroneous formulas.

“I just have to make sure one cell is correct in Valcre and it’s correct everywhere else. The confidence in Valcre to make sure everything is correct, and everything’s right, is great. I do that all day, for every report, and it makes life so much easier, so so much easier,” says Jake.

Work effectively as a team, moving the entire business forward

With the entire team using Valcre, everyone has visibility into what projects are being worked on. This helps the team to work more collaboratively, moving everyone’s projects along. For example, Nora finds Valcre’s dashboard and mapping functionality particularly powerful:

“You can see what everyone is working on in the dashboard, and in the map, and see if there’s anything we can share. Sometimes just seeing the address, you don’t realize how close it actually is. But when you see it on the map with all the open jobs, it’s very helpful,” says Nora.

A solution purpose-built for appraisers that’s simple and easy to use

In a profession where accuracy and reputation are critical and it’s rare to find spare time to learn new processes, appraisers need technology they can trust, built by providers who intimately understand the challenges they face. For Nora and Jake, Valcre fits that bill. 

“It’s definitely clear that Valcre was built by appraisers,” says Nora. “You have to have the experience to know that would be something relevant for a job, and we’ll open a template and see that it’s already in there. Those types of features, they’re just so niche, I’m even surprised that they’re included on Valcre. But it was clearly created by appraisers because they know it would be a pain point if it didn’t exist”.

And for Jake, Valcre’s ease of use and fast learning curve has been a major benefit. “I like how easy it is. We’ve had newer team members who have experience in the field who have picked it up super quickly after a couple of run throughs. They wish they had it 20 years ago,” he concluded.