Consider the "feel" of the screens. Do you have to enter data
in scattered places on numerous input screens before you get close to an
answer? We can't tell you how many users who have compared programs like
Argus and Project with ours, have selected Investment Analyst. Many, even
after they have made a huge investment in our competitor's product. With
Analyst, there are three basic input screens: Income, Expense, and Worksheet.
Investment Analyst performs complicated analyses, but it makes your job
easier. Our users don't have to attend classes in order to use our products.
And they do not have to use them on a daily basis to remember how the software
"Programs" based upon templates - BEWARE
Another category of income analysis software is based upon templates like
Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access. You need these programs on your machine
in order to use the income analysis templates. Over the years, Microsoft
has increased the power of their products remarkably. They are truly "programmable."
As a user, you can design input screens for yourself and let Excel or Access
perform the background tasks. We use both products and highly recommend
them. They are especially useful to those who have some programming skills
and want to customize an application for their own use or for others in
their company, relatively quickly and inexpensively.
Unfortunately, these programs are also mis-used. Usually, it works this
way. A talented person, like an appraiser, a CPA, or a young spreadsheet
expert with "some" real estate knowledge, sees a way to apply
the power of these programs to get his own work done more efficiently.
He designs a "template" based upon Excel or Access that turns
out to be just great. Maybe he first does an Income Statement template.
Then a Discounted Cash Flow Analysis template. Then a Capitalization Rate
template. At some point, he sees the possibility of selling these templates
as a package to other users like himself - as an "extra" source
of income for himself.
Please beware. It is one thing to design a "template" for your
own use and quite another to write professional quality software that will
be used by persons with various levels of computer skills, different levels
of mathematical knowledge, and different levels of real estate knowledge.
Intelligence must be built in so that input errors of all kinds do not
result in erroneous calculations. Input screens must be made easy to use
for both the "computer challenged" and those who use computers
every day. Flexibility must be incorporated that allows for different inputs,
depending upon the analysis, and "smart" reports that change
as the inputs change.
Ever wonder why these templates only do a 10 or 20 year analysis? It is
because the designer cannot write the necessary code in a spreadsheet to
allow for various holding periods. And he cannot write the code to make
holding periods of various years fit neatly on the printed output page.
If the software designer cannot incorporate these basic functions, do not
expect much "intelligence" to be built into the product. Important
checks will be missing - verifying the IRR calculation independently, using
several mathematical techniques behind the scenes. Or verifying that individual
income and expense entries actually "add-up." Or incorporating
code that insures that spreadsheet errors have not crept into the model
due to an inadvertent change in a cell somewhere deep in the spreadsheet.
Or a Review Report that evaluates your input entries against a Standard.
$79.95 may look like a good deal. But if you are serious about analyzing
the income of real property, you will be wasting your money.
"Narrative" Software that also performs Income Analysis - BEWARE
You may run across a software product that is designed to assist you in
the preparation of your narrative. Some of these programs, as a "bonus,"
will build a rudimentary cap rate or perform a discounted cash flow analysis.
If you are serious about analyzing an income property, don't short change
yourself by accepting this kind of analysis. It is relatively easy to build
a simple cap rate or to perform a DCF. But to do it correctly and thoroughly,
you need Income Analysis software that looks beyond a simple mathematical
formula. How income and expenses are handled under various circumstances
is critical to a good analysis.
Investment Analyst is devoted to Income Analysis. We take care to incorporate the many considerations that may come up as you develop your analysis. We build in a series of checks to verify the analysis. And we build in the flexibility to analyze all types of income properties, under a variety of circumstances. You will not find the capabilities of Investment Analyst in "narrative" software.
Commercial Complete incorporates the full power of Investment Analyst. Each product stands
alone, above the rest. Real Estate Income Analysis should not be an after-thought
to be used only to fill the pages of a report.