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Divorce Appraisal Work - Who Is The Client?

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Mediocre Jones

Freshman Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Ohio
Hi all. I am a new appraiser, who up to this time has done only residential appraisals for AMCs/lenders. A buddy of mine is a new attorney and has asked me to do an appraisal for him for a divorce case. The property is like 40 miles away, but I reluctantly agreed because it would be nice to create a new revenue stream. So I read these forums and drew up a long-winded agreement regarding my fees, etc. He gets back to me saying, " Hey, I looked this over, can you make the husband (his client in the divorce) the client and deal directly with him?" I told him no, that he (my buddy) approached me and therefore he and his firm are the client, and if the husband wants to hire an appraiser, he can find one closer and cheaper than me. I am assuming his boss saw it and didn't want to be on the hook for paying me,especially if testimony is involved. I don't know the husband's story, and who the hell knows if he is gonna get raked over the coals in some ugly dispute, or declare bankruptcy, etc. On top of that, I am a fairly green appraiser to begin with, hardly 'expert testimony' material, and fear I would get slaughtered in court. I know I could defend my report, but in this case, probably not my competence in the neighborhood/market that is 40 miles away from my office, albeit still the Greater Cleveland area. I would just like your thoughts on this process please. Thanks !!
 

djd09

Elite Member
Joined
May 20, 2009
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Ohio
The Cavs. You seem to be a "featherweight" in a middle weight fight. Unless you like dirty divorce lawyers there is not enough money for the headaches. The Cavs.
 

Mediocre Jones

Freshman Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Ohio
The Cavs. You seem to be a "featherweight" in a middle weight fight. Unless you like dirty divorce lawyers there is not enough money for the headaches. The Cavs.

GO CAVS!
 

Terrel L. Shields

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 2, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Arkansas
A buddy of mine is a new attorney and has asked me to do an appraisal for him for a divorce case.
You are correct, he ordered it, he is the client and the husband may be added as an intended user but the att'y needs to pay the bill or see that it is paid. 90% of my clients are lawyers and they write the check more often than not...and I don't recall many saying the estate or party needs to be a client or even an intended user.
 

Mike Kennedy

Elite Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2003
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New York
decline the assignment - based on >>

"I know I could defend my report, but in this case, probably not my competence in the neighborhood/market that is 40 miles away from my office,"
 

Mediocre Jones

Freshman Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Ohio
You are correct, he ordered it, he is the client and the husband may be added as an intended user but the att'y needs to pay the bill or see that it is paid. 90% of my clients are lawyers and they write the check more often than not...and I don't recall many saying the estate or party needs to be a client or even an intended user.

Thank you all for responding. I appreciate the insight.
 

Michigan CG

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Nov 1, 2006
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Michigan
Unless you like dirty divorce lawyers there is not enough money for the headaches.

$2,950 in divorce work so far this year. It is very easy work as long as the reports are thorough. I have never had to testify in a divorce case. Current assignment is $2,200 and the two parties agreed to one appraiser so the chances of having to testify are about as high as the chance of snow today.
 

Peter LeQuire

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2005
Professional Status
Retired Appraiser
State
Tennessee
OP - The fact that your attorney buddy contacted you doesn't necessarily make him your client - in fact, he's asked you to contact HIS client and work directly with.for him. I do some litigation work, (and estate work) and it is common for the attorney (or accountant, or whomever) to make the initial contact and ask that I contact whomever and arrange for access and payment. I make it a point to have whoever makes that first contact to specify who is to be the client.

That said, if you don't fee competent to appraise a property 40 miles away - don't. While I assume you might be able to spend enough time and effort to get competent to appraise this property, whoever is going to be your client probably wouldn't hire you because of your lack of experience in that area.

That said, it would be prudent to limit your litigation-related appraisal work to areas in which you have experience, in which you're comfortable claiming competence, and in which you have the advantage in arguing your credibility when pressed by an antagonistic lawyer whose job is not to prove your value conclusion wrong but to establish some doubt before the court about your competence.

And as an aside, particularly in doing this sort of work, get your fee at the time you agree to do the appraisal, whoever is paying it.
 

Mediocre Jones

Freshman Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Ohio
OP - The fact that your attorney buddy contacted you doesn't necessarily make him your client - in fact, he's asked you to contact HIS client and work directly with.for him. I do some litigation work, (and estate work) and it is common for the attorney (or accountant, or whomever) to make the initial contact and ask that I contact whomever and arrange for access and payment. I make it a point to have whoever makes that first contact to specify who is to be the client.

That said, if you don't fee competent to appraise a property 40 miles away - don't. While I assume you might be able to spend enough time and effort to get competent to appraise this property, whoever is going to be your client probably wouldn't hire you because of your lack of experience in that area.

That said, it would be prudent to limit your litigation-related appraisal work to areas in which you have experience, in which you're comfortable claiming competence, and in which you have the advantage in arguing your credibility when pressed by an antagonistic lawyer whose job is not to prove your value conclusion wrong but to establish some doubt before the court about your competence.

And as an aside, particularly in doing this sort of work, get your fee at the time you agree to do the appraisal, whoever is paying it.


Thanks for the response, Peter. I appreciate your acumen.
 
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