Write It Like You Want to Read It

The biggest business challenge for commercial appraisal firms to automate their reports is entrenched report formats. More specifically, the writing style. USPAP Standard 1 talks about how you should develop a real property appraisal. Standard 2 talks about the what, the things that you should communicate, the content. USPAP mandates topics like scope of work, intended users, etc. However, nothing in USPAP dictates report format, font, presentation layout, writing styles, use of charts and graphs, topic sequence, even details of what it means to describe something. Nothing. Zero. Nada. Your reports should communicate your analysis, opinion and conclusion in a manner that is not misleading, contains enough information to be sufficient to understand and clearly discloses assumptions.

Many chief appraisers cringe at verbose and voluminous reports. They’re busy. They don’t want to read about the precipitation rate in your MSA. If you mention the 1800s, as some seemingly necessary historical reference point in your neighborhood description, many have a strong urge to banish you off their list. They’d rather see things like local economic drivers and market position of the subject. Revamp your report format. Write it like you want to read it.

There are a few primary writing styles. Expository – the purpose of this style is to explain and typically has a logical order, and a sequence. Think textbooks. Descriptive – pretty much it’s in the word itself; to be descriptive, to go into great detail. Persuasive – this style is to convince. This is the style where it’s infused with your opinion, loaded with reasoning and justifications. And lastly, Narrative – a writing style that tells a story. Consider all of these styles in your appraisals.

Creating a template with keywords to automate your appraisals is a challenge if your writing style talks about the subject all over the place. Best practice is to make a statement and then discuss how it relates to the subject, but not in every paragraph. It makes for arduous reading. Reformat your report in a sequence and style that you would enjoy reading. Defrag your reports. Discuss the subject’s relevancy at the end of sections, not interspersed throughout the entire report. Otherwise, your report creation becomes a tiresome “finding Waldo” exercise of potential bleed-through errors from typing over old appraisals.

The ability to keyword your appraisals for automation will substantially improve your business model. Your reports will be much more readable and satisfy USPAP. The readers of your reports will thank you with repeat work. It will create more time for you to be persuasive in your writing. Because after all, when your reader gets to your reconciliation section, you want a “drop the mic” writing moment.