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Why Excel Templates Rock for Real Property Appraisers

by Administrator on May 10, 2019 Narrative Writing 324 Views

Has someone been telling you that there are too many errors and inconsistencies for you to use Excel templates? It’s a great statement if you want to get someone’s attention, but the fact of the matter is that there are thousands of people using Excel templates everyday and they don’t suffer from any problems.

My experience is that if you develop your own templates you won’t have problems. If you take templates wherever you find, like from Internet sites, then I admit you may run into problems. I have found that “free” templates may have imbedded code that sends your data somewhere that you don’t want it to go.

Excel is great if you are an appraiser using it for repetitive work like developing the cost approach, an income approach or analyzing properties using sales approach adjustment grids. If the templates that you use are of your making you know what they are doing internally, and you don’t have to start from scratch every time you start a new assignment. If you develop templates that you like you can use them over and over without hesitation.

If you are using a template or templates that someone else developed you won’t know what it’s doing internally. The why and how calculations are made are important, you don’t want a “black box.” That is one of the problems with some of the commercial real estate analysis packages. Sure, they give you many statistics you didn’t even imagine that anyone care about but you don’t know the underlying formula. Good luck trying to explain how the package came up with many of its ratios and results.

So, I agree that if you don’t take the time to figure out what an Excel template is doing you may have all kinds of problems using it. I have had to go over the results of my own self-created templates because something as simple as how and when I rounded numbers can lead to an inconsistent result. It’s just a rounding difference but they can make a difference and someone will ask why the numbers don’t match.

With more and more data becoming available for appraisers to consider, Excel also stands out as an analytic tool that lets appraisers manage the data. Simple statistics and graphs are simple to create in Excel. I’m not promoting Microsoft, I’m sure that there are other spreadsheets that can do the job, I’m just surprised when I read negative comments about a program that works so well for appraisers.

It’s a fact that appraisal reports are much easier to read, write and understand when an appraiser has used Excel spreadsheets and tables to detail the data and analyze the data. Clients don’t generally have to ask an appraiser what was considered if the appraiser did a good job of presenting their information in a report using Excel. I don’t usually include hundreds of sales in my reports, although that level of sales detail may go into my work file, but I may display 10 or more sales if there are many similar properties.

The spreadsheets in my work files can display what I considered to develop my opinions and it’s not difficult to see how I made my valuation decisions if it ultimately comes down to a review of my work. It’s my opinion that Excel is a must have, so don’t let any authors of appraisal articles lead you astray.

For more appraisal information contact Glenn J. Rigdon MA, MRICS, IFAS, ASA is a Las Vegas / Henderson Nevada based appraiser who can be contacted via email or via his business website known as Appraiser Las Vegas  (, or, 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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