How One Appraiser Turns Graphs Into Orders

In the last issue of AppraisalPress, Anthony Young's article "Trend Analysis and Graphing" got many of you thinking. Here's how Jim Westman of Centennial Appraisal Group in Bailey, Colorado has put his advice into practice with great results.

Q: You're taking a unique approach to getting orders using market trends data and graphs. Tell us exactly how you're doing it.
I recently watched Anthony Young's "How-To-Do-Trend-Analysis DVD." (Editor's Note: You can listen to a recorded version of this free webinar "Become an Excel Expert" at www.alamode.com/training.) I learned to create market trend graphs and I'm getting a really favorable response from agents.

Q: How are you using the graphs?
If I'm appraising a house in a certain neighborhood, I'll either place a phone call or send this e-mail to agents with recent listings in that neighborhood, modifying the language a little in each case depending on what I'm after in terms of verification of the sale:

Hello ________,
My name is Jim Westman and I am a Certified Residential Appraiser. I am conducting an appraisal on a property in __________. Your prior listing on _______ is a potential comparable sale. I am hoping you will share a few minutes of your time to confirm some information. The questions I have are as follows:
Were there any concessions/credits given to the buyer? If so how much and was their purpose for closing costs?
Were there any major repairs, upgrades or other factors that influenced the sale/listing price?
What is your personal opinion of the current state of the market in _________?
If you were to list this property again today do you think you would list if for the same, less or more?
How much activity was there on this listing? (Offers, foot traffic at open houses)
Was this home a rental?  If so, how much was the monthly rental rate?
I know that your time is valuable.  I appreciate your response which enables me to provide the most credible product possible to my client.  I cannot do it without professionals like yourself, who are on the front lines of the transaction.And most importantly, if there is anything my firm can do to assist you in your daily practice, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.


Then, I'll generally get back miscellaneous answers to my questions at which point I'll respond with an e-mail like this:

Dear _____,
Thanks for taking the time to share your comments. Below are a couple of graphs I prepared doing research for this assignment. The first is a graph of the Aurora North (AUN) market segment and the second is sales per quarter. wYou might find them interesting. The obvious trend in North Aurora, Colorado is a decline in residential real estate values. However, there are two interesting things to note between the two graphs; the days on the market trend is decreasing and in the second graph, the number of sales is increasing. Could those be indicators of an approaching bottom in the market? We'll have to wait to see, but it's something to keep an eye on.
I'm doing more and more pre-listing appraisals for homeowners and their agents. Some markets are doing better than others and often this type of data helps bring homeowners to a realistic view of the market. If I can help in that regard, let me know. Thanks for your time.



The goal is to get my foot in the door with agents and other real estate professionals, build relationships and establish my expertise... and of course to get their referrals. And so far, it seems to be working. Here's some of the feedback I've been getting:
"That's a great idea and I will use it as a listing tool, with you as the recommended appraiser. Neat stuff!"
"I'll call you soon about lunch or coffee..."
"Thanks you so much for this data. I will definitely pass it along to my clients and my team."
"Very interesting! I think we're all looking for the bottom. My clients and I are interested in any kind of market research you may have. Right now I'm sending large maps of the metro area with color coding for each neighborhood with the foreclosure stats for those individual neighborhoods. They LOVE this stuff. If you can supply me with anything like that, I would be interested in buying that information from you."

One time I got a request for a comp check, which I refused, but rather offered to post some market data for that area on my XSite blog. I put up a graph for their particular neighborhood. That was enough to give the homeowner and the mortgage broker a comfort level that I knew what I was doing, and they did place an order.

Editor's Note: Using your XSite content pages or your XSite blog is a great way to quickly publish information that drives people to your website. You can also set up a "doorway" form that forces them to leave their contact information before they see your data.

Q: Can you talk about how putting the Market Trends Blog on your site has impacted traffic to your XSite?
That Market Trends blog generates the most page views everyday of anything on my website. It's more than the homepage or the news feed. If you do an image search for "market trends, Colorado", those pages come up in Google on the first page. It's incredibly easy to do and has paid off extremely well.

Q: What's the market like there in Colorado?
It just depends on the area. I can point to some areas that are still holding their own and maybe even going up. Some areas are falling dramatically. We didn't have the big run up that others had (like southern CA and FL), so we're not having as dramatic a free fall as those areas are seeing. The rising gas prices are having an effect on some suburban mountain market segments. People are having to factor in the price of commuting to metro Denver with a home purchase.

Jim's XSite has been truly instrumental to his business. The amazing flexibility that allows him to easily publish his own information in seconds, coupled with what he learned about professional market trend graphs, has given him a winning combination in his marketing. To find out how you too can set yourself apart with an impressive XSite, go to www.alamode.com/XSite. Also, don't forget to check out Anthony's webinar at www.alamode.com/Training.