AI Damaging the Livelihoods of Appraisers

AI Damaging Appraisers Livelihood - Shame on All AI National Leadership

Congrats AI National, you got a win and hope you can sleep at night…

The Appraisal Institute succeeded pushing SB-70 into CA law without informing their own membership. Their long-term goal for all their anonymous lobbying to dismantle all appraisal licensing is to revert to a previous time before FIRREA when membership in trade groups mattered a lot more. Unfortunately, they are heavily damaging the livelihoods of appraisers in the process. Be sure to shake hands with Scott DiBiasio, Bill Garber, Jim Amorin and the rest of AI executive leadership at your next AI meeting.

The background on this insanely damaging law to appraisers can be found in the August 3, 2018 issue of Appraiserville.

I’ve been keeping tabs on SB70 and saw that it was signed into to law this week.

SB-70 Real estate: Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.(2017-2018)

Here is what I wrote back in August about SB70:

Here’s the biggie:

(C) States that there may be assumptions that the appraiser has not verified that may significantly impact the appraised value of the subject of the report. The whole purpose of USPAP is to provide credibility in reporting to protect the public trust. With the wording of this bill, any appraiser could take any point of view and not back it up with verifiable data. For example, an appraiser could take a seller’s word on potential uses of their property and the appraiser can simply restate them and not provide any support to verify the claims.

THEN WHAT THE %^&$@#% DOES THE PUBLIC NEED AN APPRAISAL FOR????

This bill allows the creation of a worthless document that demeans the value of an actual diligent appraisal.

This will open up fraud and overvaluation on a scale not yet seen before. It renders our profession equal to a fortune teller (no offense to fortune tellers). This bill shows a blatant disregard for the public trust from the real estate’s largest trade group.

But there is more:

This bill, if it becomes law on January 1, 2019, is only good until January 1, 2020!!! It is only valid for one year which clearly shows how desperately AI National needs to claim a win after years of losses in fighting for evaluations against their own membership’s wishes. They are throwing ethics aside! All bets are off now! Just get a win!

This bill destroys the validity of what an appraisal actually is because good appraisers can now perform like bad appraisers without concern. There is no accountability and no verification required if this bill is passed.

Plus, this bill changes the use of the report from the single client concept to a universal use as long as all the names are listed. How does this square up with their own code of ethics?

There is one glaring oversight by the AI lackeys in Sacramento that signed-off on this bill in secret that shows their own greediness to advance up the AI National hierarchy: There are about 10,000 credentialed appraisers in California. I don’t know how many AI designated members are in California, but I’m assuming it is substantially less than that. If this bill becomes law, can anyone imagine the explosion of fraud by people desperate to take shortcuts, ESPECIALLY AS THE MARKET STARTS TO COOL? Remember, AI leadership in California signed off on a bill that makes verification unnecessary. I’m sure a majority of AI membership in California are decent and competent appraisers. But now they have to compete with the bad eggs or those that will quickly become bad because they can say and do anything without verification. Not only AI members get to do these simple reports, but anyone with a license and a pulse does as well.

And you can bet that AI National will press for renewal or permanence in 2019 without telling their CA membership. I was told from a very credible source that the strategy all along was to not tell the membership what was going on and sneak in the bill in the second year of a 2-year review process. Congrats AI National, you got a win and hope you can sleep at night. Oh, and shame on all of your leadership.

Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller

President & CEO at Miller Samuel Inc.
Jonathan Miller is President and CEO of Miller Samuel Inc., a real estate appraisal and consulting firm he co-founded in 1986. He is a state-certified real estate appraiser in New York and Connecticut, performing court testimony as an expert witness in various local, state and federal courts.
Jonathan Miller

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Image credit flickr -Steve Baker
Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller is President and CEO of Miller Samuel Inc., a real estate appraisal and consulting firm he co-founded in 1986. He is a state-certified real estate appraiser in New York and Connecticut, performing court testimony as an expert witness in various local, state and federal courts.

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22 Responses

  1. Joy Lynn on Facebook Joy Lynn on Facebook says:

    Following

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  2. Jesse Ledbetter on Facebook Jesse Ledbetter on Facebook says:

    I confronted the AI representative at the 2017 panel at the Appraiser Expo. It was made very clear at that point that they do not care about the appraisal profession short or long term. Sadly NAA is in lock step. Both are beholden to the banking industry.

    A letter signed by appraisers stating the AI do not represent the opinion of appraisers is in order.

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  3. Jonathan – While I applaud your passion on this and many other issues affecting our profession, your breathless excitations merely affirm your personal animus towards the Appraisal Institute. A dispassionate reasoned reader can easily see through these headline grabbing histrionics.

    As you well know, there are thousands of unlicensed valuation professionals performing valuation-related work today . . . to a different standard, or perhaps to no standard whatsoever.  State licensed appraisers in California are unable to compete on a level playing field given, among other things, the requirement to produce restricted-use reports for one intended user only.  No one could possibly argue that the public in California is better protected by ceding this work to unlicensed practitioners in New York or India.

    The bill strictly limits the practice to non-FRT work NOT involving the purchase or refinance of a residential dwelling of one to four units and where users may not be well-enough versed in the subject matter to properly understand information contained in a restricted appraisal report. In addition, a restricted-use report must clearly identify all users. The change of the current reporting requirements as of January 1, 2019 will likely only impact a very small percentage of CA State-certified appraisers. Those that work on real estate valuation assignments pertaining to tax appeals, financial reporting, estate and tax planning, investment partnerships not associated with federally insured transactions and/or funds, etc. The clients/users of these type of assignments understand the restricted appraisal report format and do not typically require the reporting of all information and analyses that would be included in an appraisal report.

    I’m not sure how you make the leap from what the bill actually permits to an “explosion of fraud by people desperate to take shortcuts . . . .”

    Members of the Appraisal Institute CA GRC sent out invitations to every other appraisal organization in California to meet with us in the fall of 2017 in Irvine at a very lovely hotel. We even offered to pay for lunch. The aim was to solicit feedback from other stakeholders. We called and emailed weeks in advance and not a single person showed up.

    Earlier this year, David Graeler with Nossaman, spoke at a joint AI / IRWA luncheon. After opposing AB624 two years previously, he endorsed our efforts with SB70.

    Have you actually spoken to anyone with AI about this bill to get another perspective?  In other words, have you performed your own verifications before forming an opinion?

    Oy vey.

    Charles Baker, SRA, AI-RRS
    SCCAI Chapter President 2018

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    • Advocate says:

      Mr. Baker,

      Rather than loosen the standards, wouldn’t a better approach be to protect appraisers and consumers by tightening the standards, not allowing anyone other than a licensed appraiser to determine a value? AI’s actions of late are not in appraiser’s best interest. They have a personal vendetta against the TAF and will not let it go. The thinking behind this bill and others like it are very short sighted. Appraisers are being harmed by their actions across the country.

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      • Charles Baker says:

        Mr. Advocate – It was AI’s canon and code of ethics that became the seed-corn for USPAP. So, I think you’ll find AI has had the back of appraisers since the beginning.

        Who’s job is it to regulate appraisers? TAF and state boards. However, they have no jurisdiction or power to regulate non-licensed activity. Perhaps they should, but that’s a topic for another discussion. In the mean time, how would tightening standards further open the floodgates to all this work we are currently being priced out of? I’m not following.

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        • Advocate says:

          Mr. Baker, AI should be pushing for all valuations to be performed by licensed appraisers in compliance with USPAP. Appraisers should be the only ones providing opinions of value.  What AI is doing is creating a free for all and damaging the public trust…… You know the main purpose appraisers are licensed! Like I said before this is a vendetta against TAF and appraisers are part of the collateral damage. The other collateral damage is the housing market and economy. Reverting back 30 years is not going to move us forward!

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        • Advocate says:

          Let me state this another way. NO ONE other than a licensed appraiser should be providing an opinion of value. This is the message AI should be pushing!

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          • Charles Baker says:

            You’re stating the obvious. We agree completely. But that is an entirely separate discussion. Not sure what AI can do to persuade regulators to require anyone performing valuation-related work be licensed. Moreover, what have TAF sponsoring organizations done? Nothing, to my knowledge. So rather than throw darts at a non-sponsoring organization (AI) who is trying to help appraisers compete, why not direct your questions to TAF itself and its sponsoring organizations. Except you likely won’t get an answer since every sponsoring organization must toe-the-line.

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            • Advocate says:

              What exactly is AI helping appraisers compete with? People who do not have my background, training skills ethics or professionalism? NO THANKS. I am a professional that has worked very hard to build my business and reputation. It is about economics.. Business 101… just because you have more volume, does not mean it is profitable. Like I said, AI’s agenda is short sighted. Their actions are based on a vendetta, not what is best for appraiser, or even their own members.

              Think of it another way.. Why is there so much negativity against AI? If they were doing what was best, there would not be any negativity. If they were proud of their actions, why have they going behind the backs of their own members in most other states to push this?

              Dismantling and dividing the profession as  AI is doing, is not moving forward, and not helping appraisers or consumers. No other appraisal organization is in support of this agenda. There is a reason!

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            • Brooklyn Brawler says:

              Wait. Did you say HELP APPRAISERS COMPETE? Who in the hell gave the AI this authority? Go to school, take classes, gain experience and then compete. This is the most asinine thing ever. AI helping appraisers compete. Lmao. I worked my ass off to get where I am. No one deserved a shortcut to COMPETE with me. You have to earn that. Yet here is AI helping lesser appraisers to compete? Ha. AI IS A JOKE and I so are its members. A bunch of puppets who are are in cahoots with that CRN network and AMCS. AI has done nothing for residential appraisers and you can say “they have done so much” all you want. The truth is they haven’t. All they care about is commercial, investors, AMCS  and corporate BS.

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        • Jesse Ledbetter on Facebook Jesse Ledbetter on Facebook says:

          The state boards do have jurisdiction, in the same way that all state boards have the means to regulate those that attempt to perform professional services without a licence – which is why BPO’s were illegal in the state of PA until recently – but the state refused to enforce the regulations. This was acknowledged by AI and NAA reps and ignored. The solutions have been on the table for years, but the NAA and AI continue to be in the pocket of the banks.

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    • “Oy vey” is an example of  dispassionate, fact filled commentary?

      1. AI did NOT send invitations out to every single appraisal organization in California. Though AGA is a national appraisal peer organization and guild, we maintain a branch in California and we received nothing from AI. I’ll concede AI may have sent out half a dozen invitations to limited numbers of appraiser organizations. Coincidentally organization that would not be at all, or only nominally affected by the impact of SB70.

      2. Why would any care or consider David Graeler of Nossaman to be a credible representation of appraiser opinion or appraiser interests? Nossaman is a law firm.

      3. I corresponded with George St. Johns of CaCAP regarding this…after previously  strongly opposing AB624 and helping to bury it in appropriations until it finally died.

      4. ALL AI did with this Bill is to lower standards. Dress it up any way you want, but the bottom line is that AI promoted something LESS than the minimum acceptable standards allowed for FRTs on the basis that non NFTS don’t matter. Apparently defrauding consumers and / or private investors isn’t as bad to AI as it would be in FRTs?

      5. AI would enjoy far more support (and probably even growth) if it would cease the behind the scenes back room political manipulations it seems to prefer over open and honest public debates concerning appraisal issues.

      I DO appreciate your reps not claiming to represent the interests of all appraisers anymore at TAF meetings. A small but important step in the right direction.

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    • Hi Charles,

      After enjoying a nice weekend, I came here only to be served up a heaping pile of doublespeak. Your personal animus was conveyed quite nicely by reframing critical points through breathless histrionics to make yourself sound like the voice of reason.

      The irony of your “verifications before forming an opinion” dig was not lost on me either since “verifying” was removed from the appraiser’s role in your SB-70 law in item 3C. Please re-read it.

      This Friday I’ll be translating each point you shared in your comments to what it means to all appraisers in the real world – within my weekly Housing Notes.

      I’d comment now, but I have a slew of work to deliver this week, and I doubt you care what I think anyway if you want to be considered for a higher position at AI National.

      best,

      Jonathan

      p.s. I’ll be sure to explain to you why no one showed up at that lovely hotel.

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  4. John Pratt says:

    If I am reading this correctly there are 2 major problems. First is that the appraiser will be liable to anyone that can get a copy of the report. Currently under California case law which has been confirmed on appeal the appraiser is only liable to the client which is the intended user named in the report. It appears to me that if anyone can use the report then the appraiser would be liable to everyone that uses the report for any purpose. This unrestricted liability is not a good thing for any appraiser. Second if the floodgates are opened to all different kinds of appraisals with no verification necessary the fees for an appraisal will drop to around $50 and no appraisers can survive on that kind of fee. Within a few years there would be no licensed appraisers, just a bunch of individuals filling out a 1 page form with a number at the bottom and a signature and maybe a few photo pages.

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    • Charles Baker says:

      John – As spelled out in the law, every intended user must be identified. So, your thesis is incorrect. You might be thinking about Mitteldorf v B&W Appraisal Services, Inc. or Soderberg v McKinney. These cases cover appraiser liability and are entirely separate from the issue at hand that, with the correct certification and limiting conditions language and a properly prepared engagement letter, would never had been contested. “Unrestricted liability”, as you put it, is not the focus here.  Also, the law is allowing licensed appraisers to perform work that might be more competitive with unlicensed individuals.  Seems to me, that would have the opposite effect you’re describing – “all different kind of appraisals . . . no licensed appraisers . . .”

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      • Charles, another alternative COULD have been for California to revert to their original FIRREA implementation language & policy under state law that said ANY appraisal had to be USPAP compliant and that any word or alternative euphemism used to express a value (opinion OR estimate) was in fact an appraisal.

        That specific wording as to what was a ‘covered appraisal’  has also been modified over the years to the current ambiguous verbiage that intentionally leaves everyone in doubt. The next few years will be interesting. Particularly on the litigation side.

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  5. Bill Johnson says:

    Speaking of CA and appraisals, and keeping your enemies closer than your friends, no thanks SingleSource to your offered $225 fee for a form 1004. Who cares if the property is 9,820 sf, of 7 bedrooms, 6.1 baths, 4 car garage, 1.76 acres, pool, unfinished pool house, is a short sale, in a gated community and due to condition, must be an all cash offer. Who cares if the cash offer (2.1 million purchase price), is 50% of a like sized and completed properties.

    Should I counter back at $275? Since they want it in 4 days, should I counter offer to 5 days.

    Seek the truth, and welcome to CA where crazy is normal.

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  6. AB-70 is essentially a rehash of the prior passed bill AB-624 that was buried in appropriations until it died an ignoble death. Largely due to the actions of OPEIU and the California Labor Federation after it was previously passed against strong opposition.

    I know that the CaCAP opposed the current bill (George St. Johns, President). I also know that ASA opposed the bill. THE AGA told George that we would NOT take a visible leadership role in opposing SB 70 as we did AB 624.

    At some point, California appraisers have to become actively involved in protecting their own interests. Other than George, NOT ONE California appraiser approached me or AGA to oppose this bill. Not one.

    Similar bills had already been passed by AI lobbyist-influenced legislators in multiple other states. Now that California caved, the rest of the U.S. should be no challenge for them.

    Now, the fun part (yes, there IS a fun part) will be watching the California BREA attempt to credibly determine, and explain to defrauded consumers why they have no jurisdiction. Of course, throughout their existence (according to State Auditor reports) OREA/BREA has had difficulty understanding the limits of their authority and their state mandate. I must in all honesty confess to a certain amount of anticipatory glee to this (not the defrauding – just the regulatory circus that will follow).

    Should be fun at the next AARO & TAF meetings too. For those that are unaware of it, TAF is also heavily populated by ex California enforcement officials.

    As for AI, they may just have pounded the last nail in their own credibility-coffin.

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  7. Pturner says:

    All of this trickery is for commercial, AMCs, and lenders.

    Where has A I been on oversight of the AMCs and adherence to FIRREA?

    M I A is where.

    But Evaluations will not impact the residential sector imo.

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    • Pat my friend, I think there is also significant spillover to residential and residential income portfolios. Especially for tax compliance work.

      At a TAF meeting in Redondo Beach,CA years ago AI claimed the number of appraisers that will benefit or be affected by this is actually very small. Further, that it would be used mainly for limited loan portfolio reviews where the investor didn’t need or want ‘full appraisals’. They only wanted the bottom line of what a property was worth.

      (1) IF so few appraisers were going to benefit or be affected, then why was a special law necessary for them? Under USPAP, restricted reports were always permitted and with several revisions to USPAP they can now be used for corporate entities rather than individual human beings. [All it takes is a scope of work master agreement with the client to provide specific reduced services and reference to that agreement] .

      (2) IF these assignments were NOT for federally regulated transactions (FRTs) then under existing California Law, they didn’t have to comply with USPAP anyway. What was the AIs rationale? Appraisers wanted to ‘capture’ Business Valuator’s tax work? Work that essentially allows them to charge $1,500 for DESK APPRAISALS of individual properties (including sfr’s)?

      Admittedly California’s BREA goes back and forth as to what is or is not required to comply, and attempts to leave all options open through use of intentionally ambiguous language in their state appraisal regulations. Correcting that language is all that was necessary for non FRTs.

      California allows ‘appraisers’ that have had their licenses REVOKED to continue to practice in non FRTs. BREA has no jurisdiction over ‘appraisers’ (trainees, or revoked former licensees) that don’t have licenses. However a LICENSED appraisers still falls within their claimed jurisdiction IF they identify themselves as a licensed or certified appraiser.

      So, what SB 70 did was enable real appraisers to act the same way as non-regulated appraisers and unlicensed appraisers already act. As feared by TAF and regulators years ago, the regulatory quagmire that will result will be far beyond the ability of BREA to monitor, regulate or enforce. There is probably no state agency across the country that is less competent to handle the new rules in a manner that promotes; protects or preserves the Public Trust (Whatever THAT is).

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  8. Cracks In the Concrete says:

    You know what would be awesome?? If the AI  Maybe could show residential appraisers what they are doing for the residential side. (it’s hard)? – Maybe instead of having their paid members telling others to call them so they could explain and try to convince them of these phantom issues they could provide documents and more on what they have done, are doing and willing to do in the future instead of all this secrecy. AI doesn’t represent me and they never will. They are just as bad as these amcs with the secret fees. Fraternity life at its best. Pay for your friends and to be accepted.

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AI Damaging the Livelihoods of Appraisers

by Jonathan Miller time to read: 3 min