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By the Numbers; Enforcement in California

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George Hatch

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Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
California
I finally got my state newsletter (California). I know there was a brief thread about it last week, but I thought I'd stick my 2 cents in.

The number of certified appraisers has declined to about 7,316, with another 3,627 licensees and trainees. The current total is 10,943. The newsletter stated that the overall number of licensed/certified appraisers had declined 10% during the year.

The Enforcement section made up 12 pages (out of 24) in the newsletter. Between 06/2001 - 10/2001, 35 Appraisers were listed as having received public disciplinary actionas. Of those, 15 licenses were resigned, revoked or non-renewed. Another 7 licenses were put under a 60-day suspension, and a whole bunch of fines and required mandatory education hours were levied. There were also 45 Private Reprovals listed as being issued. The Director's Message stated they had opened 270 complaints since 01/2001, and that education is their primary means of obtaining compliance.

Of the Public Disciplinary Actions, a few appraisers got in trouble for non-appraisal related criminal activity like petty theft and grand theft, robbery (!), what looks like a weapons violation and felony DUI. Proof positive that we are expected to lead a law-abiding lifestyle in general. I would venture to say that some of our elected officials would not qualify to receive or maintain an appraisal license under these criteria. The most common appraisal-related offenses included:

Failure to report and/or analyze pending sales agreements or sales history, particularly in regard to flip transactions for the subject and/or comparable sales. This was, by far, the most common violation.

Incorrectly reporting key physical characteristics of the subject properties

Misrepresenting comparable sales data, including key physical characteristics, descriptive data, and sales prices

"Signature' violations such as not acknowledging professional assistance, not having a current license while conducting appraisal work, using other appraisers' license numbers, signing other appraisers' names to their work, etc.

A couple of violations for errors of appraisal methods and techniques and competency, particularly in regards to the Income Approach.

The only mention of values were references of how some of these violations "resulted in gross (or significant) overvaluations." There were 12 summaries that included one or the other. The other 2/3 did not. And it doesn't look like they were talking about a 5% or 10% difference of opinion either. I would interpret this as another manisfestation that the value is not the only thing an appraiser should worry about in an appraisal.

Most of the summaries listed several different types of violations. What I found interesting was that the enforcement summaries commonly will refer to the appraisers having been found to have made the same violation 2 and 3 or more times. It's as if the state is trying to demonstrate a pattern of conduct rather than an isolated incident. Most of the violations were not based on comp selection per se, although that was a common complaint listed in the Private Reprovals section.


There were also articles in the newsletter of Appraisal Review and Appraisals of 2-4s that appear to have been written by the OREA staff. The article on Appraisal Review included prominent mention of geographic competency. Physical inspections (of all the units) and data verification was a main topic in the Appraisals of 2-4's article. I would say that any appraiser conducting business in California would be taking a pretty significant risk if they ignored these articles. I wouldn't want to try and argue ignorance as a defense after these articles had been published by the state.

To me, the overall tone of the newsletter is that the state board is pretty serious about following up on complaints and is doing so in an organized and consistent manner. Also, there seem to be some appraisers who just don't get it. Follow the rules or get out.

Based off of the current and past newsletters (I keep them all), I would say that the noose is slowly tightening. For those who want to conduct their business by following the rules, this is a positive and encouraging trend. For those who spend their careers looking for and selling loopholes, this is an ominous sign of things to come.


George Hatch
 

Frederick R. Ruffell

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
California
I too just recievied the OREA publication. I do alot of 2-4 unit appraisals and am shocked that OREA would even have to comment on these very simple, basic and evident issues and responsibilities. It reassures me that I am doing a competant job. It is also why I am in favor of higher education requirements (i.e. BS) for appraisers.
 
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