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Plagiarism! What should I do?

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Dave Smith

Thread Starter
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Wisconsin
Recently I was given the opportunity to read a vacant land appraisal prepared by a fairly new licensed appraiser in my area. The appraiser worked for me as a trainee for about nine months two years ago, during which time the necessary experience hours were accumulated. In addition to being state licensed as an appraiser the person is also a member of our local Board of Realtors.

As I read the appraisal I realized that four narrative paragraphs in the report had been plagiarized from an appraisal I had done a year ago. My appraisal was of a vacant parcel owned at that time by the soon to be licensed individual. My appraisal had been prepared for a local bank, for mortgage loan purposes. The four plagiarized paragraphs were lifted exactly word for word from my appraisal, including the final reconciliation in its totality. The standard Fannie May & Freddie Mac certification form was a part of the report.

Plagiarism is theft (look the definition up in Webster's). Misrepresentation raises ethics questions. USPAP has probably been violated.

What should I do???

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
 

larryhaskell

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Nevada
Dave,

Take it as a compliment. Anything beyond that probably isn't worth your time. Someday he will have to stand on his own.
 

Randy Beigh

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Dave

I agree with larry. You should take it as a compliment and forget it. Besides, unless your appraisal was trademarked, I doubt any laws were broken.

I have had people plagarize the standard comments that we use in this office and do not find it offensive.
 

George Hatch

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
California
Dave,

First off, a newly licensed appraiser has no business appraising vacant land without some help or supervision, unless its a simple finished SFR lot. Doing one correctly involves too many variables and there is too much to know for the average rookie. Hopefully, this assignment doesn't rise to the definition of "Complex" as defined in FIRREA. Secondly, one hopes the analysis and reconciliation actually apply to the subject property in their entirety, since that is how they were used. Thirdly, the newbie apparently doesn't realize exactly how small our community is, and that such things always come to light. I'll bet they would do well with a little reminder of some sort, kind of like a friendly little word of advice.

Don't take the copying thing too seriously, unless the comments don't actually apply to that specific property. You know you're doing good work when your peers or your juniors try to emulate you. If the other appraiser regards your work that highly, they should have no trouble taking you out to lunch.

I dunno about you, but I have no shame in appropriating a better turn of phrase or format spotted in someone else's report, provided it works for me. I usually rewrite slightly so it will better fit my "style". I don't mind learning from others. I also don't mind if another appraiser uses my language (happened before), so long as it works for them. Several appraisers on this forum actively solicit verbiage and standardized comments on a regular basis. I don't see anything wrong with that.

It just goes to show that veteran appraisers set the example and the newbies will try to match it. In this case, literally.

George Hatch
 

Dee Dee

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
Another good argument against cloning yourself. :lol:
 

Tim Hicks (Texas)

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Texas
Funny, when I was training, I noticed all the guys at the office using the same wordperfect, same designed resume, same maps, same data. Then I noticed that they were using the same forms that the people that trained them had used. I knew this because their former bosses resumes were saved as word perfect documents on their system. Why would they need their former boss's resume. They didn't, but it sure save time to have all those saved documents that some body else created. Are you sure every word of your appraisals are not derived from somebody else's report who trained you? I noticed that all the commercial appraisers would just clone reports or type over old ones, etc. I would see entire pages that had nothing to do with the subject property, but were form old reports. Even now, I clone reports to save time. Let it go, sooner or later the other appraiser will not have enough data to use your stuff any more. On a side note, I would listen to my former bosses complain about appraisers stealling from their former bosses, all the while they were using somebody else's word perfect, sharing MLS data instead of purchasing it individually like they were supposed to do, sharing software, and trying to steal their old bosses clients. I believe that it has been this way since the first appraiser was born and decided to expand by hiring somebody to do his work. This is the primary reason I will always work alone. If my business grows, I will just have to work harder. And I have!
 

Paul Ness MAI

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Pennsylvania
My advice is get used to it! I completely re-wrote standard verbiage (for commercial narratives) about 10 years ago when I had worked for a large appraisal firm as supervising appraiser. I also created a comparable sale adjustment grid on Excel with certain lines and boxes and layout, etc. Well, I still see the EXACT verbiage today in appraisals from numerous companies all over the region (I am now a bank review appraiser), after I've re-created standard verbiage about three times over the past 10 years. Recently, I reviewed an appraisal by a small town appraiser located about 100 miles from here, and she had the EXACT Excel comp grid.
 

slacker

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2002
Take a look at three final reconciliation’s written by three different CRA’s. I bet they all look pretty much the same.

Would it make you feel any better if this appraiser didn’t use anything you taught? I might accuse this appraiser of being lazy but being worried about standard comments being plagiarized or copied doesn’t seem worth getting your blood pressure all pumped up over.

It’s hump day, have a beer!

www.appraiseillinois.com
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Take it as a compliment and suggest the new appraiser re write the comments in his own words next time.
 

Dale Smalley

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Florida
Hey you taught the guy, what do you expect. Sounds like a compliment to your find work. Take it for what it is. It used to be called plagiarism now its called cut and paste.
 
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