It makes virtually no difference to us whether you use the fourth generation WinTOTAL Athena, or fifth generation Aurora. While Aurora just turned three years old, if you’re still using Athena, that’s okay. But it does pay to know what the other roughly 75% of WinTOTAL users have available to them in Aurora to help make their job easier, save money and help with marketing that Athena can’t.
Click here for an interactive graphic, highlighting Aurora's side-by-side comps view.
Perhaps the most commonly cited “favorite” new feature in Aurora is the Comps side-by-side view. In Athena, you still have to deal with comps on a “1-3” and “4-6” basis, on their individual forms. But in Aurora, you can see all comps on one horizontally scrolling screen. This means you don’t have to flip between your URAR and an Additional Comparables form. In Aurora, on one screen you can view, arrange, edit, add, and weight comps. And those you discard are automatically saved to your Digital Workfile. Even if saving time isn’t a big factor right now, the fact that it eliminates so much hassle is a major bonus.
DaVinci Desktop standard To this day, one of the highest support call generators in Athena is third party sketching. Since sketching is a core part of appraisal reporting, we decided to make our own integrated sketcher for Aurora last year, and give it to all our users at no cost. Aurora users never have to pay for a sketcher again, and for $23 can upgrade to DaVinci Desktop Pro, which gives them, among other things, the ability to convert and reuse third party sketches, like Apex. We’ve supported third party sketchers like Apex for years, so we know what users like and dislike. As a result, DaVinci is simple to use and has features like the ability to click directly on a line and change the length, instead of reopening an area and deleting your way back to the line you need. Click here to learn more about DaVinci Desktop Standard.
DaVinci Mobile Designed for tablet PCs, DaVinci Mobile Pro increases the accuracy of field data collection and saves time in the office because you don’t have to retype anything. And the pen-based sketching that takes your hand drawn floorplans and snaps them into exact lines will blow your mind. You can include voice notes, hand-written notes, photos, comps and more, and everything opens seamlessly in Aurora. Click here to learn more about DaVinci Mobile Pro.
Digital Workfile Aurora has several key improvements over Athena’s Digital Workfile. In Aurora, you can drag and drop one or more files at a time into your report’s Digital Workfile without having to browse for each individually. You can also preview most document and image files right in the Digital Workfile without having to open it, saving you clicks and jumping around. And last, you can add to your report’s Digital Workfile from the File Cabinet, without having to open the report. When money gets tight, being able to cut down on expenses like storage, paper and toner are important. Aurora’s Digital Workfile helps thousands of appraisers save money every day.
Aurora’s SmartMerge lets you pick specific sections or forms from existing reports to reuse, which is faster and easier than cloning
Unlike Athena, Aurora favors SmartMerge over cloning when starting reports SmartMerge lets you pull in fields, sections or entire forms from existing reports at any time. So if you want to reuse comps 2,3, 5 and 7 from one report, and the neighborhood section from another, you can do it in seconds without having to retype anything. It’s this kind of flexibility that helps you cut down on the hassle of repetitive data entry.
The Add Document tool lets you easily add external files, like PDFs, to reports, and is only available in Aurora.
Aurora can import external documents, like PDF files into reports. Using the Add Document feature, you can create a new page in a report, name it, and then browse for a PDF or image, or scan in a document. It’s then added directly to your report with a click. This is something many Athena-to-Aurora converts mention as a “new favorite”.
File Cabinet Aurora improves on Athena’s File Cabinet in several important ways. Without opening reports you can view the order form, the report’s history (who did what and when), the Digital WorkFile and more. You can also create subfolders for easier file organization which was a huge request, and use Virtual Folders to easily see things like what’s Past Due or In Progress. This is another key area where Aurora’s flexibility can make your life easier.
XSite integration With Aurora, XSite Order Manager is built in to the File Cabinet, rather than as a standalone program used in conjunction with Athena. XSite, AMC and lender orders synchronize directly into Aurora, and you can automate status messages for these orders from within Aurora as well, which clients appreciate and keeps you from jumping through additional hoops.
Virtual Earth mapping
Aurora users get high resolution aerial maps, as well as Bird’s Eye imagery, in addition to the standard location maps in Athena. Showing the property 200 yards from a sewage treatment plant is different than simply reporting it. Being memorable matters more than ever, especially with non-lender clients like attorneys who can offer repeat business.
XSellerate integration Having a diverse client base has never been more important. Getting non-lender business is critical to a balanced business plan, and unlike Athena, Aurora integrates with XSellerate to help you do that. You can export the addresses of properties you’ve appraised in the past to XSellerate where you can print mailing labels and pre-written postcards or letters to the “Current Resident.” Let them know you’ve appraised their home in the past, and that you can help them find out their homes current market value. Think about how many reports you’ve got, and you’ll realize you’re sitting on a goldmine.
If you’re an Athena user considering an upgrade, it’s usually better to do it when things are slower. Plus, there’s no cost to upgrade. We’ve also put together a huge library full of “how-to” videos and training webinars to help make the transition that much easier. And we’re always here to help answer questions too. So if you haven’t thought about upgrading from Athena to Aurora in a while, now is a perfect time to give it a fresh look.