CASPER, Wyo. — Casper-based Eval.com, a company that does evaluations related to real estate appraisal, has been experiencing rapid growth and has been offering a new career path for people just out of high school and others who used to work in other fields.
The company recently moved its offices to a building that previously housed Casper Housing Authority offices at 145 N. Durbin St. in downtown Casper. Part of the reason for the move was to allow for growth.
Eval.com had about 33 employees at the end of June, when Oil City News sat down with founder and CEO Deb Clark. The new office space has room for 70–80 employees and Clark said Eval.com expects to fill those positions within 24 to 36 months.
“These are primary jobs,” Clark said. “Our average salary here is about $50,000 a year. We have some that do much better.”
Clark, who herself began as a bartender before getting into appraisal, said that many of Eval.com’s employees are people switching from other career tracks.
“We have people from the public sector,” she said. “We have firefighters. We have former military. We have quite a few from the medical field. Former bartenders and servers. A few from the oil industry.
“There’s high school graduates and they’re fantastic. We’ve got a college dropout — he’s one of our best. One of our guys who came to us, he worked for SpaceX, then he got tired of California and relocated to Wyoming, where he was climbing wind towers and I think just the weather and stuff, the wind, kind of got to him so he works for us now. He’s great.”
Some of the people working for the company have moved from other communities, but the majority are people who were already in Casper looking for a new career, Clark said.
The reason Eval.com needs more employees is because of high demand for the services it offers.
“Our sales have grown by over 1000% since January of 2021,” Clark said. “We’re a company that is bringing millions of dollars into Casper every year.”
Clark is a certified general appraiser who took over ownership of a company called Mountain West Valuations in 2015. That company focused on commercial and agricultural appraisals in Wyoming and western South Dakota.
“When I took over the company, something that I wanted to learn more about and explore was this service that’s called evaluations,” Clark said. “I knew almost nothing about them at the time except that they were valuation reports for real estate that was being done for low-risk transactions for banks.”
“From what I heard, there were a lot of them being used, but appraisers apparently couldn’t do them because they didn’t comply with the set of professional standards that those of us that are certified had to comply with. … I thought, ‘Well, I want to look into this a little bit more and see if there’s maybe an opportunity here.’”
As Clark began researching, she found that evaluations have been in use by financial institutions extensively since around 2010. If no new money is changing hands, the federal government allows financial institutions to rely on evaluations conducted by someone not certified as a general appraiser, she added.
“Turns out, according to our licensing in the state, while I can’t write an evaluation myself because I’m certified, there was nothing stopping me from hiring these guys and teaching them how to do a good job of valuing real estate,” Clark said. And so we started offering evals in 2018 through my appraisal company.”
“It just took off. Within the span of about a year and a half, we went from one bank that we did them for to 16. I went from one analyst to three pretty quick. I started to get a sense that this was a need that was not just in Wyoming and western South Dakota, but it was everywhere.”
Eval.com has grown to include about a dozen analysts able to offer evaluations. There are also four certified appraisers on staff and four training to become certified appraisers, Clark said.
“We have this business model where the whole concept is that we take one appraiser from being able to write two appraisals a week and through mentoring and teaching these non-appraisers — through performing quality control, supervising them — we’re able to exponentially scale that to upwards of 12–15 evaluations every day.
“That’s how we can take one appraiser and be able to produce that much more of the service that lenders need.”
As Clark and her team started to fine-tune the model, they got to a place where they were ready to begin offering their services nationally.
“In 2021, we relaunched as Eval.com for that purpose,” she said. “Here we are. Now we have over 70 clients nationwide — a couple of them are really substantial. We are partners with the largest appraisal management company in the country, who alone represents 10% of banks.”
In addition to needing more space to add more employees, Eval.com is investing in technology to improve efficiency its analysts can achieve, Clark said.
“We do have a tremendous amount of data that comes through,” she said. “Every evaluation is at least four property records and we do hundreds of hundreds of them every month.”
Clark said she sometimes encounters a perspective from other business owners in Casper that think the talent pool is not very deep, making it hard to find employees. That has not been her experience with Eval.com.
“I just don’t believe that,” she said. “You know, we have 70,000 people here and so many of them could be really good at what we do. … We’re looking for people that can work on computers, that can think outside the box, that can be great with details but not get bogged down in them. That enjoy a job where they’re paid for production.”
The work Eval.com offers is not suitable for everyone, Clark acknowledged, noting that some people prefer a job where performance is not a big part of the pay formula. Eval.com is an opportunity for people who like the ability to earn more in accordance with more effort, Clark said.
Clark moved to Wyoming in 2006 with a former partner who had been with the Coast Guard who took a job with BNSF Railway.
“We moved to Douglas and my background had been in bartending,” she said. “Shortly after moving here, I took a job at a bar. No offense to anyone who works in bars, but I was 30 and I just hit a wall.”
Clark didn’t have a lot of other work experience she could lean on when it came to finding something else to do. She searched hard and was eventually able to find something.
“Pouring through the classifieds, I talked my way into a job as an assistant at the Douglas Chamber of Commerce working for a fellow named Gary Hurt,” Clark said. “Bless his heart. He gave me a chance. I barely knew how to use Word or Excel, but he and I got along really well and he was a lot of fun.”
While working in that position, a new appraiser moved to Douglas and came to sign up with the Chamber of Commerce. Clark said she was able to have a long conversation with that appraiser, who ended up offering her a job the next day.
“Within a week of working for her, I knew that was something that I could do and that I wanted to do,” Clark added.
In 2008, Clark moved to Casper and started working for Andrew and Neal Hilston at Mountain West Valuations, who helped train her in appraisal until she took over the company in 2015.
“When I took over the company, I was afraid because I’d never owned a business before,” Clark said.
While she had some concern that clients might leave after she took over, that didn’t happen. The support she’s found in Wyoming in terms of people giving her a chance, in terms of clients choosing to stick with her and in terms of quality talent makes Clark want to keep Casper as Eval.com’s headquarters for the long haul.
“As long as I have anything to say about it, it will always be in Casper,” she said. “Best-case scenario, we get so big that we have locations all over. But those revenues, they flow back to Wyoming. Right now, they’re all flowing back to Wyoming, which is great because 90%, 95% of our business is from out of state.”
“I’m really committed to Wyoming. I just believe in the ethos of the people in this state.”