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Always on My Mind: Disciplinary Hearings

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David Brauner

Sophomore Member
Joined
May 16, 2002
Professional Status
General Public
State
California
Working RE Magazine (email edition: 2/12/03):
Always on My Mind: Disciplinary Hearings

Editor's Note: Appraisers all across the country are raising concerns about the fairness of disciplinary actions undertaken by their state licensing boards: anonymous complaints and dragged out investigations are but two of the biggest problems cited. Conversely, many appraisers have given up turning in “bad apples” because their states rarely take action. This story takes you inside one appraiser’s case. While he readily admits his treatment was fair, a handful of other appraisers wish they could say the same. These appraisers assert that they have been the target of mean-spirited “vendettas” by their state boards that was “payback” for public criticism. Look for expanded coverage of the problems and possible fixes in the “state of the industry” cover story of the current issue of Working RE Magazine, mailing February 15. To subscribe use the link at the bottom of this message.

The mistake seems natural enough for a rookie appraiser to make. But over five years later, both the mental anguish and resulting consequences are still fresh. This appraiser, who wishes to remain anonymous, admits he made a mistake on a unique property that he was not qualified to appraise at the time. When he questioned his own ability to tackle the job, the then-trainee was told by his supervising appraiser not to worry – that he could handle it. The trainee listened to his boss and completed the report. “It is not a mistake I would make today,” he says simply.

About a year later he made a second mistake, allowing himself to be rushed on a job. “I didn’t know the neighborhood as well as I should have and I picked some bad comps. I was under pressure to get the job in and I rushed it. Again, it is not a mistake that would happen today.”

The bad news announcing the investigation arrived in the mailbox more than two years after the second incident. According to this appraiser, he was treated fairly by his state board. He stipulated to coursework and a fine. “I think they knew my heart is in the right place and that the mistakes were honest. They examined my more recent work and saw that it had improved.”

His only criticism is that it took three years from the time the complaint was filed to the time it was settled. “It was on my mind every day for three years. I was seeing many appraisers lose their licenses for just one strike. I worried whether I would have to be looking for work or not. I paid careful attention to the disciplinary actions published in my state newsletter and that made me worry because there didn’t seem to be any consistency in their rulings.”

Inconsistency is a problem often cited by appraisers when discussing their state boards; complaints which can be made anonymously and which are made public before they are adjudicated, is another. There does not seem to be a simple solution to either problem. Each state can make up its own mind about how to run its board and administer sanctions: some see USPAP as black and white, rarely letting appraisers off the hook. In other states action of any kind is seldom taken.

Regarding anonymous complaints, appraisers say they are often lodged by a disgruntled competitor bearing a grudge. In states where complaints are made a matter of public record, the reputation of the appraiser in question, as well as their ability to make a living, can be negatively impacted for years – before any guilt or innocent is ever decided. Not to mention the mental anguish from years of hanging on a hook waiting for a ruling. Appraisers in other states point out the exact opposite problem: they say that because their state reveals the source of complaints, they are never lodged against the “bad apples” or anyone else, for fear of payback.

Then there are the lingering consequences for mistakes made over five years ago: the appraiser profiled in this story is still having difficulty obtaining reasonably-priced errors and omissions insurance because of the bad mark on his record. He must also mention the sanctions every time he applies to a new client. More on this in the current edition of Working RE magazine. Look for it soon. Help support expanded coverage of important issues – without the slant. Subscribe to WRE today!
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Phil Rice

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Joined
Apr 22, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
Your post says:

Each state can make up its own mind about how to run its board and administer sanctions: some see USPAP as black and white, rarely letting appraisers off the hook. In other states action of any kind is seldom taken.

Please name names – give a few examples of states that see USPAP as black and white, and a few examples of states that seldom take action.
 

Mike Simpson

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Nothing wrong with anonymous complaints in my book. If there's sufficient information in an anonymous complaint to raise concern (board determinate) then an investigation is justified. What's it matter if the complaintant is anonymous or not? Many people are in possession of information which--if unchecked could be a detriment to the economy. Many of those people don't want or are fearful of confrontation and wouldn't report these criminals if they weren't allowed to do it with impunity.

-Mike
 

David Brauner

Sophomore Member
Joined
May 16, 2002
Professional Status
General Public
State
California
Thanks Phil,

I'm going to let your fellow appraisers answer that one.

David
 

Stephen J. Vertin MAI

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Illinois
I believe what David posted was directly from the next issue of RE Appraising Magazine. However, I think if you check the archives within this form you will find a number of cases in which you seek information. Most are now discussed in the “Improving The Profession” section. But the article is pretty accurate. Read the archives you will see what I am referring to.


Steve Vertin
 
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