As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the world has been forced to transition to a strict work-from-home format. This transition has been abrupt and left many wondering how long they can sustain this new normal.

We spoke with Valcre user, R. Ashton Rowles, MAI, MRICS, of Archstone Appraisal Group(Boise, Idaho) to learn more about his past, present and future experience using Valcre. Read on to find out how Valcre has set his team up for success during this uncertain time.

Tell us about Archstone Appraisal Group

We opened the company in October 2017. I was a sole owner at the time and we specialized in boutique work and international work. On January 1, 2020, we merged with Property Analytix, a specialty real estate valuation firm located in Houston, Texas. We now have 40 appraisers and several locations throughout the country and some international locations. Now my partners are Michael Miller, MAI from Houston, Ryan Lin, MIA from Houston, Bruce Greenberg, MAI from Tucson, Benjamin Greenberg from Mexico City and Ericka Simmons from Washington D.C. Together, we are working on building the growth of our company on various tech platforms.

How long have you been using Valcre?

Archstone Appraisal Group started using Valcre right away in October 2017. They provided us a turnkey system that allowed us to immediately start capitalizing on existing appraisal work that we had. They’ve been great at branding our template and tables to something that met our expectations and presented what we wanted to present to our clients. They helped with the design of our cover pages and have been really easy to work with.

What were you up to before you opened your own appraisal company in 2017?

For the large majority of my Career, I worked with Colliers International. But I also spent a two year period working for the U.S. Department of State, where I reviewed and performed appraisals on government owned real estate in foreign markets.

How did you first learn about Valcre?

Lucas and I started around the same time (though in different offices) for a PGP valuation (now Colliers International). We stayed in touch over the years, and I was interested in his product at Valcre when I decided to start my own company.

How does Valcre compare to the systems you’ve used in the past?

Valcre is different because it is a turnkey product. It’s easier to use than other products, especially if you have experience at a large appraisal firm where linking templates were standard. It’s adaptable and fast. I think the online interface is superior to other products I was familiar with.

Tell me about your overall user experience with Valcre, dating back to your time at Verde Valuation?

Overall, the Valcre team is very responsive to anything I’ve needed. They work to turn it around quickly and consistently exceed my expectations. They are always interested in my feedback on the software and feedback about how to make it better. I feel like they really listen to their clients. They also do a good job of walking a line between flexibility and speed.

What is the one Valcre feature you couldn’t live without?

I’d probably say the document syncing software and the cloud database are the most important features for our practice.

Are your other partners at Property Analytix currently Valcre users?

No. They have a different business model that allows for a high degree of repetitive work. We are evaluating opportunities to make it integrated with Valcre, but we’re also trying to build a national practice and we believe that many appraisers coming on board in new cities will rely on Valcre for traditional appraisal work.

Much of the world is working from home right now amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In what ways has Valcre affected your team during this transition?

We made the decision several years ago to run a paperless practice. Having the resource of Valcre available really helped facilitate that. We’re able to organize all of our assignment data and comparable data online. And now that we’re all at home, our workflow is not disrupted as everything is still accessible through Valcre from our laptops.

What role did Valcre play in allowing you to evolve and expand and eventually merge your appraisal company?

It gave us a real turnkey system. It saved us so much time and allowed us to generate income immediately and with a product that we felt really comfortable with.

Valcre allowed us to add people to our company much more quickly. It provided us with a report production system that we could immediately put new employees into. We started out with four people and in two years, we grew to 15 people.

Would you consider Valcre as a valuable product to your peers? Why or why not?

I would highly recommend Valcre to any appraiser, but especially to those launching out on their own. If they’ve worked with a large company and are familiar with the template approach and report automation process to appraisals that’s even better. It is robust enough to handle complexity in nearly every property type, but still efficient to help keep your workflow streamlined.

How important is Valcre for the future of the appraisal industry?

Without a doubt, being able to run paperless will be a requirement for the future. You must have a platform to efficiently track your assignments, track your comparables and then if you can reuse that information efficiently, it will pay for itself many times over. Valcre is designed to do this more effectively than many other platforms I’ve looked at, but specifically with reusing comparables, accessing your work and tracking your assignments –those are all attributes that Valcre performs well.