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 providing reliable valuations and excellent customer service. The firm was established in 2022 by industry veterans Jacinto Munoz, MAI and Russ Zellner, MAI, who saw a major opportunity to provide high quality valuation services powered by technology, while simultaneously investing in and developing the next generation of appraisal leaders. In 2023, they welcomed a partner, Don Lee, with the expansion of their New York office.

Having experienced the power of Valcre in a previous role, Munoz and his partners knew the appraisal software was going to be a must-have foundational tool for their new company. Fast forward to today, and the firm has built an impressive client base and renowned reputation for high quality valuation and advisory services from Los Angeles to New York. Munoz talked to us about how he and his team have used Valcre to help ramp up the business and reach profitability faster.

Life before Valcre:
A lengthy appraisal process that needed a solution

“The driving factor was that, as every other process is beginning to move faster, the appraisal piece is still the longest and we needed to find a solution for that… any group out there competing for clients today knows that clients want things faster and better,” says Jacinto Munoz.

Prior to founding Cogito, Jacinto Munoz held high profile roles at major US financial institutions and was responsible for managing large groups of appraisers. While the quality of his teams’ work was always extremely high, their processes were manual and time-consuming, relying on offline Word and Excel documents. And without a cloud-based solution, teams couldn’t take advantage of employees working across time zones, slowing appraisals down further.

For Munoz, it was clear things needed to change:

  • Other practice groups were utilizing technology to speed up their processes, but the appraisal piece remained the longest. There needed to be a solution so that appraisers could keep up with everyone else in the value chain.
  • Clients had much higher expectations – they needed their appraisers to deliver higher quality reports, faster. If appraisers couldn’t meet these expectations, they wouldn’t be able to compete.

When Munoz and his partners took the plunge and established their own firm, Cogito Realty Partners, they were specific and intentional about deploying an appraisal software solution that would let their team move faster and make better decisions – to help clients and themselves.

Enter Valcre.

Life with Valcre:
Cogito uses Valcre to run a smoother, more efficient appraisal process

“I just had someone join us from a national firm and compliment us on our processes and technology. Saying how much better and smoother everything operates, and they’ve only been there three weeks. When I hear comments like that, it just reinforces and solidifies the decision I made to adopt Valcre, we just knew it was the strongest tool on the market,” says Jacinto.

For Munoz, the decision to implement Valcre at Cogito was a simple one. Having explored all available appraisal technology options and with experience using Valcre in his prior role, he knew Valcre was the strongest tool. He was also impressed by how easy and intuitive Valcre is to use, even for trainees, pointing to it as a major reason for selecting the software.

I think Valcre works no matter what side of the equation you’re on. If you need it faster, with good quality, you’re here. If you need good quality, and you’re not as concerned about speed, you’re still covered.”

With Valcre, the Cogito team have been able to:

Ramp up operations and get to profitability faster

Valcre gave the Cogito team the best tools to get off the ground running. They didn’t need to start templates from scratch. Instead they could use Valcre’s report templates and out of the box tools and customize according to their unique valuation approach, saving them valuable time and helping them ramp up the business faster.

“If we had to start fresh, it would have taken us months to put together templates,” says Munoz. “The tools that are in the base product help you get across the finish line faster. Knowing we have the tools available helps us get to a level of profitability quicker because at the end of the day, I’m not spending months trying to develop something that we’re going to have trial and error on. It’s been tried, the errors have been taken out for us.”

Deliver high quality appraisal reports 20-30% faster

With Valcre, Cogito is able to capture significant time savings throughout the report writing process, giving them the opportunity to compete for business and service clients more effectively. And as a cloud-based tool, multiple appraisers in different geographies can collaborate on reports at the same time.

With features like auto-population, appraisers only need to input numbers (like APNs) in one place, then they automatically populate throughout the document. And the team knows that information pulled in from the Valcre comparable database is correct, because they entered it themselves. This creates significant efficiencies when it comes time for a senior leader to review reports for quality and errors. Because as Munoz points out – clients notice typos.

“I can look at [Valcre] and know for a fact, if I had to go out and do this research myself, aggregate this data, I’m definitely going to be spending 20-30% more per report, at least,says Munoz.

Train junior team members more effectively

One of the biggest benefits of using Valcre for Cogito is that it makes it easier for them to train junior appraisers. With Valcre, they can break reports into different parts and assign specific sections to individual appraisers depending on their level of knowledge – for example, a junior appraiser can learn how to complete a regional or market analysis under the guidance of a senior appraiser, or focus on inputting information into the spreadsheet while another team member works on the verbiage in the report.

Having the ability to effectively manage the workflow throughout the report writing process is an extreme benefit to the team,” says Jacinto.

Precisely manage the team’s workload, from start to finish

Thanks to Valcre, Cogito’s leadership is able to easily understand the team’s workload and ensure jobs are delivered on time, every time. They can see what jobs are in process, the status of every job, and sort by due date to prioritize action.

A modern approach to valuation, powered by a happy, successful team

Ultimately, Munoz is focused on building a happy, motivated team that’s enabled with the best tools they need to make better decisions, faster, and provide the highest-quality service to clients.

Munoz says, “If we’re setting our team up for success, ultimately [Valcre] helps us. How we do that is through making good decisions to adopt the best technology that will ensure our long term success. For me individually, as a partner within this group, it gets us to a level of profitability quicker, or helps us increase profitability where we can now maybe share a larger purse with the team. Ultimately, when I think about what my success looks like, it’s the success of my team.”