Maybe I am the oddball but I enjoy court work. I have developed a reputation with area attorneys as a thorough and fair appraiser. To begin with, several "professional" orginizations offer classes concerning being and preparing to be an expert witness. My advice is to take a class or two. Know your market, verify EVERYTHING, and have confidence. You are, afterall, the expert.
In a recent review I caught an appraiser making up sales with 5 investors so they could make fraudulent loans. After that review the bank gave me 21 more with the same appaiser and little to there knowledge the same buyers, sellers and re-buyers. They then had 20 more for me to do, again same sleaze ball apraiser. I declined and told them to get another appraiser involved which they did.
So they have ripped this bank off for about 5 million and the bank is going to pursue civil and criminal action. Looks like I will be testifying sometime in the near future.
I prefer to stay out of court. What is wrong with this picture...
You on the stand and the attorney says..."how long have you been in the business? You reply.....2 years, sir! Attorney says..."how many appraisals have you completed? You say, ahhhhh, several hundred, sir.
The opposing appraiser is then ask the same question and answers....more than 30 years and 12,666 appraisals.
I have been qualified a number of times as an expert witness in state and federal court but each time they settled prior to trial. I hate that kind of work. Most of the cases involve causualty claims. I appraised a warehouse for the insurance company side last time out and the lawyer never mentioned anything about going to court. Then when I sent him the report in like October of 1999, I get a letter back saying : "Don't make any plans for the 1st week in August of 2000, because that is the week of the trial in Federal Court." That happens to be my vacation week. If you did a lot of this work they could have your entire life scheduled around court dates. Also, always get on the side of the party with the deep pockets if you want to get paid. That is the only thing I like about insurance companies, they pay. Like a lawyer once told me: "Just do what they want and send them a bill. They will pay it and it is Yankee money anyway so go for it."
First of all you have to have a "different" kind of personality for that kind of work (not intended to offend anyone). Second you have to have the ability to accept the reasoning of others who do not understand real estate and the concept of appraising. Third you have to have the drive to get good at it, i.e. becoming a good witness on the stand. This does not mean you have to be a good appraiser. Go poke around your local DOT office, Redevelopment & Housing, city utility offices and get on their approved lists. Talk to other local appraisers who have experience in court testimony and listen to their stories. It can be very frustrating work but you can make a living at it. 8) The company I work for messes with it but I refuse to work for DOT. Only mess with RHA, occasionally. Could not take the mentality of government's way of doing things. :twisted:
I really enjoy court work. I have learned that you must check every fact in your appraisal and then check every fact in the appraisal submitted by the other side. You should be able to discuss how you performed the appraisal and be able to define terms on the witness stand( I have a notebook with definitions that I think will be discussed).
You will be suprised at what the lawyers and judge think is important. I have had to explain to a judge why a tax assessment ratio should not be used to determine value. If you think that you are good give testimony a try.