A "catalytic event" or a "catalyzing force" is the term used to describe something that drastically accelerates progress during the process of evolution. It refers to a sudden change or trigger that stimulates a rapid and significant advancement or transformation, much like a catalyst in a chemical reaction.

Are there catalytic events on the appraisal industry horizon? Appears so.

There have been advances in the appraisal industry in the past 10 years, and while some have significantly advanced the industry processes, none arguably rise to the level of a catalytic event:

1. Automated Valuation Models (AVMs): AVMs are computer-generated estimates of a property's value, which can be produced in a matter of minutes. They have increased the efficiency of appraisals and improved their accuracy, as they are based on real-time data on recent sales and market trends. They are often used by appraisal districts for property value assessments, for property tax levies.

2. Geographic Information Systems (GIS): GIS technology allows appraisers to create interactive maps of properties and neighborhoods, giving them a comprehensive understanding of the local real estate market. This technology has made appraisals more accurate and efficient, as appraisers can easily access and analyze data on property values, demographics and market trends.

3. Big Data Analytics: Big data analytics tools allow appraisers to analyze large amounts of data in real-time, which helps them to make more informed decisions about property values. This technology has improved the accuracy of appraisals and has made the appraisal process more efficient by reducing the amount of time and effort required to analyze data.

4. Cloud Computing: Cloud computing technology has allowed appraisers to access their data and software from anywhere, at any time, using any device. This advancement has made the appraisal process more flexible and efficient, as appraisers can work from anywhere, without the need for specialized hardware.

These four innovations have been significant advancements but they haven't changed the game. On the other hand, there are three recent innovations that could catalytically impact the appraisal industry and possibly eliminate the need for many appraisers altogether.

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI technology has the potential to significantly improve the accuracy of appraisals by providing more accurate and up-to-date data on property values and market trends. AI-powered appraisals could also be completed much faster than traditional appraisals. Truly, the bottom line here is the removal of human effort in the writing of the report. What this means is the substitution of flesh and blood appraisers writing reports with artificial-evolving-intelligence taking their places.

2. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR): VR and AR technology could be used to create virtual tours of properties. The typical evolution advancement perspective is that this technology allows appraisers to conduct appraisals remotely, without the need for on-site visits. However, this advancement could in reality be a catalytic event as appraisers become the VR gofers, or not even that. The realtor or non-real estate licensed photographer could be the person who uploads the VR data so that the AI can recognize the property materials and conditions to incorporate and correlate with construction handbook costs and accessible market data, then do the  analysis, write a report and email its flawless results to a client.

3. Blockchain: Blockchain technology could be used to create a decentralized database of property records, allowing appraisers (or AI) to access accurate and up-to-date information on property values and ownership. This resource could greatly improve the accuracy and efficiency of appraisals and reduce the risk of fraud. This little advancement could moderately change how multiple listing services operate and store records or it could just replace them in general. How exclusive is the data? That's a good question because realtors have vigorously protected the data in MLS systems for a long time. Owning the information enables the realtors to make exclusive matches, which enables commissions. If the blockchain real estate records is open, it negates realtor power -- which throws real estate agent leverage, in general, into questionable relevance, and that change would qualify as catalytic.

AI working in tandem with blockchain could eliminate the need for realtors and/or appraisers.

Market demand drives change in a capitalistic society, and consumer benefits drive ever expanding innovations, like iPhones, battery powered cars, indeed.com and eharmony.

These three new innovations (AI, VR and Blockchain) are poised to benefit the consumer with faster appraisal production, information transparency and fewer errors. So, they consequently benefit lenders (lenders are the typical appraiser client). Skeptical of the impact? The impact trajectory on appraisers and the appraisal industry will likely be obvious in an evolutionary graph 10 years from now. It's a meteorite in the sky that just hasn't collided with us yet, and our way of life is as normal as it was yesterday, so we're generally, blissfully unalarmed. Don't look up.