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Narrative Report Writing 4 - Using Spreadsheets

by Administrator on Feb 20, 2013 Narrative Writing 2365 Views

This is a short article which is part of a short series on narrative report writing and as part of this segment I'm not going to attempt to instruct anyone on how to use a spreadsheet.  I can't imagine how I would write narrative appraisal reports without using a spreadsheet program to assist me but maybe there is another way.  I will say that being able to use a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel is important to mosts commercial appraisers who are going to write their own narrative appraisal reports.  I started using Excel when it first came out.  Before Excel I used Lotus 1-2-3 and before that I used VisiCalc on the original Apple.  Its amazing how far spreadsheet programs have come since their introduction but you still have to take the time to sit down and learn how to use them.

You don't have to be a computer expert or even a computer nerd to become familiar with and use a spreadsheet program for the analytic portions of an appraisal report.  Learning how to move around and use basic spreadsheet functions doesn't take long nor a great deal of effort.  There are free spreadsheet templates all over the Internet that were designed by appraisers and real estate analysts.  If you are a beginner I would suggest that after you learn the program basics you should search out what's already been done by others.  You will see what others have done that you like and you can either use it as is or adapt the spreadsheet templates that you find to your own purposes.

It's my opinion that you have to understand what is happening in your own analytic processes, so if you are using or thinking about using a "black box" or an analysis package of any kind no matter how advanced it is and you can't explain how your results were calculated step-by-step, and understand the equations used within it, then I would call into question whether or not the results are really your own.  I'm not against showing lots of ratios and multipliers if you know how they are derived and what their use is, but if you are just trying to have an impressive display of analytic power, then you should be able to tell your Client or a regulator how those numbers were derived and explain why they are important in your report.

I have found great adjustment grids on the Internet for; sales comparison approach adjustments, rental adjustments, direct cap layouts, discounted cash flow models, cost approach tables, subdivision analyses and if you look hard enough you will find great templates for your data tables, ones that you can cut and paste directly into your reports.  There are even powerpoint presentations that will help you use Excel, check on the Microsoft website for some of them. 

Once you have mastered spreadsheet basics you can go on to use advanced features and functions.  Its much easier to use a spreadsheet as the basis for a table when it does summations and adjustments with no math errors.  There are fewer chances that you will make math mistakes if you are using a spreadsheet that is developed with the right calculations set-up within it.  While I prefer to import my excel data sheets directly into SPSS for statistical analyses, many statistical functions are also built into Excel and a short series of equations can provide you with an acceptable regression analysis.

Excel can also provide appraisers with the ability to create awesome original graphs.  It takes a bit of hit and miss when you are learning but if you are persistent you will be rewarded with the power to create bar, line, pie and area charts at will and once created they can be easily cut and pasted into your reports.  I am going to attach (to the bottom of this article) a dated data sheet that I used in my narrative appraisal reports, I used it display available market data in a presentation format by using Excel graphs.  You can make your reports better than the competitions with a little bit of effort. 

For more appraisal information contact Glenn Rigdon MA, MRICS, ASA is a Las Vegas / Henderson Nevada appraiser who can be contacted via email or via his business website Appraiser Las Vegas  (, or you can also click on “Contact Us” on the home page of this website or visit my public profile at LinkedIn at  

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