The importance of good data

Ruby Stroschein appreciates good data.

After 30 years running an appraisal business in Moscow, she knows that the details make all the difference when it comes to setting a value on a piece of property. Stroschein said she also knows how poorly the available tools meet the needs of the industry, particularly for rural markets.  “The problem is there isn’t consistency on land types, so being able to map those out” is key to differentiating between rural properties, she said.

“Ag, rural appraising – where we live it’s a pretty big deal here – we looked, and it’s the most underserved market,”  says Stroschein’s daughter, Sarah Miles, who works with her mother at Gem Valley Appraisal. The two said they believe they are the only mother-daughter MAI- designated appraisal team in the state.576e10a343ff4.image

Soil type, the amount of annual rainfall, the number of growing days and whether property is mostly timber or agriculture land are all essential pieces of information for establishing comparable data during an appraisal.

Keylock Solutions allows users to account for all those variable and more. The software system is designed to provide appraisers, agricultural lenders and non-lenders with the tools they need to perform apples-to-apples comparisons for appraisals.

In building the database for the system, Stroschein, who in 2010 founded AppraiserMetrics, which does business as Keylock Solutions, said specific variables were designed to break down the different property types in agricultural appraisal.  “We have a list in our database of probably 25 different property types to recognize is it a vineyard, is it an orchard, is it pastureland,” she said. “… And then probably ten different ones for timber.”

Keylock Solutions offers a few different products for a few different clients, said Zac Moore, chief sales officer with the company. There’s a comparable sales database where appraisers can input and maintain information generated on comparable properties, he said. Then the appraisal report writing tool allows the appraiser to capture all the information from that database and tie it into the report and create a narrative.

The evaluation tool provides many of the same services, Moore said, but is designed for lenders to generate a stripped-down version of an appraisal when a full appraisal isn’t necessary or cost-effective for their purposes.

The land management tool is for landowners and available for up to four properties on a free-trial basis, Stroschein said, providing them a place to maintain all such useful information about a piece of property, which then can easily be shared with a bank or lender, simplifying and speeding up the process. “They can upload their farm service agency field maps, their information relating to USDA, they can put in their crop yields,” Stroschein said.GIS mapping technology allows users to map coordinates and have a visual of the property, as well as adjacent properties, and all the services are cloud-based, available in a mobile format that can be used accessed on a smartphone or tablet in the field, as well as a desktop version.

Stroschein did admit their product hasn’t been adopted quite as quickly as she’d hoped. She said many appraisers are reluctant to switch systems simply because their old data won’t flow seemlessly into the more differentiated systems that Keylock Solutions offers, and making the change will take some time and effort.

For customers like natural resource consulting firm Mason Bruce and Girard, which primarily relies on data generated internally, that wasn’t a problem. Brent Pederson, an appraiser with the firm, said they appreciate the way the service allows them to store all the data on timberland sales in one place, on the cloud, which can be easily accessed from anywhere to generate a report, and the simplicity witch which that information can be shared between appraisers.”What really attracted us in the first place was the fact that Ruby had developed a specific database for timberland sales,” Pederson said, adding that Keylock Solutions has been great at tailoring the service to meet their needs.

Stroschein said despite something of a slow start, she’s confident the service will eventually permeate the rural appraiser market. And the reason, she said, is simple:

“It will make them better appraisers.”

Originally posted Saturday, June 25, 2016 in Moscow-Pullman Daily News by Bill McKee, Daily News business editor