The Appraiser Coach Podcast Interviews Anow’s Founder & CEO, Marty Haldane
Anow is excited to showcase a recent episode of The Appraiser Coach Podcast that aired on February 10th. Marty Haldane, Anow Founder & CEO, was interviewed by appraisal industry leader Dustin Harris for his podcast Episode 616: Get To Know The Man Behind Anow.
In this minisode you’ll learn about the history behind Anow, Anow’s main goals, Dustin’s thoughts on the software, and more!
Get To Know The Man Behind Anow
We want to be the champion for appraisers where if the industry goes one way or the other way, we want to be there for it.
Marty’s Background In The Appraisal Industry
Marty started working for his father’s appraisal business in 2004 and was an appraiser for 10 years in Western Canada. Not only did he perform appraisals, but he also got deeply involved in the business itself and learned from his dad what it takes to manage daily requirements, employees, marketing, finance and payroll. This was a valuable lesson to learn at such a young age, and this is a challenge many appraisers still face to this day.
Running a successful appraisal firm is a lot of work and it comes down to two main things: being an excellent appraiser, and being able to manage the inner workings of the business. This is where Marty saw an opportunity to improve and simplify processes for appraisers to be able to focus on the tasks that matter most, and truly understand their appraisal business.
And that’s really where I just got to know the whole business from start to finish and not just going out and doing properties and valuing them, but literally what it is to run an appraisal company at a pretty young age. So I was really fortunate to have that start and wrap my head around everything.
Real Estate Appraising In Canada
What is it like to be a residential appraiser in Canada? When it comes to the basics, things really aren’t all that different from America:
- One thing that doesn’t change between Canada and the US is the education requirements for real estate appraisers. Continuing education and doing update courses are critical regardless of your location.
- Although Canadian appraisers use different reports than American appraisers, many of those reports still look alike and require the same types of information.
- Processes are also still the same: from order intake, to performing the appraisal, to building and completing the final report.
Performing residential and commercial appraisals in Canada is somewhat similar to the US. However, there are some distinct differences between the two:
- Canadian reports have been updated over the last few years and these new forms have detailed fields that aren’t present on other forms.
- AMCs are a huge source of orders for appraisers in the US, and there are some in Canada as well, however not nearly as many.
- Many American appraisers are used to submitting XML files. In Canada, XML isn’t a requirement — oftentimes, all it takes is simply uploading your report as a PDF to the AMC or whoever ordered the report.
- Comp photos essentially don’t exist for Canadian appraisers. Marty mentioned that he’s never had to drive for a comp in his 10 years of experience as an appraiser.
- The US has a trend of being highly entrepreneurial, so you often see a lot of one-person shops and small appraisal teams. Because there are so many AMCs in the States, it’s easier for people to build their own businesses. In Canada you’ll tend to find more large companies and teams of appraisers working together.
Where Did The Idea Of Anow Come From?
Marty was forced to learn a lot, fast, when he was working for his father’s appraisal company in Red Deer, Alberta. No matter how hard the team worked, they were still facing struggles of being overrun and not having time to focus on making more revenue. They hired admins, office managers, and relied on Excel spreadsheets to stay organized, however their goal of saving time and money still wasn’t being met. Marty knew there had to be a better solution to their problems.
It was like, “Okay, it’s time to build something better.” We looked for something. I’ve got a background in software development. I was a software developer when I was a teenager, I used to build websites for people, if you’re getting married, or you had a small business type of thing. But not at the level that Anow was at. So that was when I just started pouring everything I had into building Anow. I hired another contractor and we would sit and work 20 hours a day building Anow.
Looking at the challenges he faced in his own career as an appraiser, Marty started designing a product to simplify workflows and processes that were chewing up valuable time. And in the beginning, Anow was very different from the product that’s available today; in the early stages Anow was mostly used for basic workflows, tracking files and adding team members. With the help of an amazing Development Team and amazing feedback from real appraisers, Anow has evolved into an end to end solution for appraisers and their clients.
I’ve heard it before and you [Dustin] said this, is the built by appraisers, for appraisers. And this couldn’t be more true with Anow. I legitimately am one, my dad still is one. I haven’t done an appraisal in a few years now, the last one I did was at the end of 2013 as Anow took off. But it’s just in my blood. It’s what I know, I love this kind of world, I love being a – if I can be a champion for the appraisers, especially in the changing world where we’re kind of on the defense it seems like sometimes, but it’s just that’s what I love doing.
The Biggest Surprise When Building Appraiser Software
Many appraisers go through similar processes in their day-to-day: accepting orders, performing appraisals, collecting payments and building reports. Even though appraisers work on similar tasks, everybody’s individual workflows and needs are vastly different.
Hearing new perspectives from companies about how they would like Anow to work or certain features that would help them, helps guide Anow’s product roadmap.
Thoughts On Anow From The Appraiser Coach
Even though Dustin Harrris is a huge advocate for Anow in the present day, he was an incredibly tough sell in the beginning. He researched Anow for a few months, had phone calls with Marty discussing the product, and finally decided to give it a try. The transition from his old software and routines proved to be the hardest part in his Anow experience; after fully cutting ties with his previous system, Dustin was able to commit to Anow and see the value it provides for his appraisal business.
At any moment, as a business owner, I can log into Anow. It is cloud based. I can go on to my phone, my laptop, my tablet, my desktop, you name it – anywhere where I have a connection, and see exactly what’s going on with each and every order. We keep the workfiles in Anow, there is a schedule there, there are notes, there is a timeline and activity feed, a punch list as we go through the process. I can see where we are for this month, last month, last year, this month last year. What am I doing with manufactured homes, private, multi-family, single-family? You know all of this can be done at the touch of a button, stuff that I used to spend hours organizing and understanding. Now, whenever I have a question about what’s going on with my appraisal business, I can log in, and Anow is there for me.
What Anow Is All About
Appraisers Now, more commonly known as Anow, takes your entire appraisal business and puts it in one consolidated place that you can access anytime, anywhere. From intake to invoice and everything in between, Anow provides appraisers with a cloud-based, secure platform to manage their business and build reports.
Aside from the day to day tasks of being an appraiser, Anow also helps you put your finger on the pulse of your business and discover new opportunities to make money. The Analytics and Insights tools let you build custom business reports so you can see which clients are bringing you the most orders and revenue, how your performance is from year-to-year or month-to-month, the average fee you charge for each property type, and so much more.
So much of this stuff is what Anow does for you. But yet, all you’re doing as an appraiser is you’re just putting in a property address, you’re putting in your client name that’s already in the client database, your fee, and you go on your way. You go to the property, you do it. And then Anow just does all those things for your business so that you can make smarter decisions. So you can run your company, and actually have to spend less time running the company because Anow is keeping it all under one roof.
Appraisers are good at what they do: Appraising. You shouldn’t have to spend hours of time working on the business, and that’s where Anow comes in. Almost like a virtual assistant, Anow handles all of the tedious and time-consuming tasks so you can focus on what you do best. And if you ever need a hand or have a question, the Anow Support Team is there to help.
That’s really what Anow is, it’s getting your life under control, letting you grow, letting you expand, saving you money. It does all of those things, depending on what you want to do with it.
I think too many appraisers look at the software itself [Anow] as a cost. But I’m telling you folks, it’s what you get back in return in the same time. We all know time is money. It will absolutely blow you away.
The newest addition to the Anow suite of tools is the Nexus report writer, released in the Fall of 2020. Since the launch, dozens upon dozens of improvements have been made, with many of those enhancements coming from user feedback and suggestions.
When you open a report in Nexus, all of the information from the order details in Anow will transfer over and speed up the form filling process. Save time and start completing more reports without sacrificing quality.
The Nexus Report Writer is really huge for us. And we recognize it’s a gigantic project in a space that has very little innovation with companies that have been around for many, many years, but we’re really excited and really happy with what we’ve got so far. And we’re already down and delivering hundreds and hundreds of appraisal reports through Nexus every week.
Live, multi-user collaboration is one of the standout features of Nexus. If you have a report open and someone else on your team opens the same report, you’ll see that they’re online. If someone starts typing on the form, you’ll also see their name appear along with what they’re typing in real-time.
Nexus comes with an iOS Mobile Inspection App that lets you collect property data, photos, and do the sketch all on-location. The amazing part about it is that as soon as you add details to the Mobile Inspection, whoever’s back at the office will see all of those details populate into the Nexus report automatically.
No matter if it’s an appraiser, admin, trainee or assistant, they’ll all see the same report with the same information. There’s no more passing files back and forth or wondering if you’ve got the most up-to-date information because everything is stored in the Anow Workfile and Nexus report.
This idea of collaboration, I don’t know the technical term, but this idea that you can literally be in the field taking a picture of the front of the house and three seconds later back at the office 100 miles away that picture pops into the report that your assistant is working on at the very same time. It’s just so cool.
The Future Of Anow
The main goal at Anow is to provide real estate appraisers with a full end to end solution that makes their lives easier. This sentiment is something we continue to strive towards and improve upon as we move through our product roadmap.
Two of the most popular features are the Anow Calendar and Map; since appraisers are always trying to schedule appointments and figure out where they’re going to be, these have become staples. To enhance these tools even more, Anow is working on new, smart technology that will simplify the scheduling process by suggesting times and optimizing your calendar.
I always use this term bottom-up, I look at a lot of different things out there in many different markets. And they get built top-down, and top-down means from, we’ll use our industry to lenders where people build requirements for lenders, and then push them down the throats of appraisers and say please conform to these, this is how you have to do it… And we’ve approached it very differently. Where we build it bottom-up, we say it’s the appraisers doing all the work anyways, let’s build stuff for appraisers. And then let’s take that right to the top so that they can help. And then everybody gets the benefit of these hyper-efficient, happy appraisers who are doing their thing, they have great technology. And that’s, that’s really where we’re going to go.
There’s no telling what features might end up being added to Anow and Nexus in the future. User feedback is constantly discussed by the development and support teams for implementation. No matter how busy we already are, if we get a highly requested feature, chances are it will end up in Anow sooner or later.
We’re gonna push hard. We work with now tens of thousands of appraisers and we get a lot of great feedback. But the hardest part is picking which ones to do. Honestly, we want to do everything but sometimes you just can’t do everything. We just want to perfect that end to end process, make appraisers important and continue to be important by arming them with great tools that make them just look fantastic.
Dustin Harris is an appraiser who was once working 60+ hours per week and making about $75,000 per year. In just a short time, he transformed that appraisal business into a super successful appraisal firm making well over $1,000,000 a year. Here’s the kicker… he ended up working less hours per week and the quality of his product improved at the same time (even in a post-HVCC world). Now, Dustin teaches other appraisers how to employ the same principles of prosperity in their own appraisal businesses and is transforming the way appraisers ‘work’ one company at a time.
Marty Haldane is Founder & CEO of Anow, Red Deer, Alberta. He is a third-generation appraiser with more than a decade of experience doing residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural valuations. He is a technology advocate and entrepreneur who founded Anow in 2011 with a vision and passion to transform the customer experience in mortgage origination with technology.
Anow is an appraisal management software developer that simplifies the way real estate appraisers manage their businesses. Launched in 2011 by multi-generational appraisal professional Marty Haldane, Anow streamlines a wide range of everyday appraisal processes while offering unmatched business insights to help appraisers compete in today’s digital environment. Powerful order tracking, job assignment, collaboration and scheduling tools allow appraisers and administrative staff to save time, assign appraisals more easily and deliver exceptional service to clients and mortgage lenders from any web-enabled device. Advanced reporting enables business owners to manage fee competition and turn times with ease.