Ganter Brothers Versus Appraisers

Brian L. Trotrier

Brian L. Trotrier

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at FREA
A former practicing attorney with more than 30 years experience in real estate and risk management. The Foundation of Real Estate Associates (FREA) has specialized in providing Errors & Omissions Insurance to appraisers and home inspectors since 1993. As a membership organization with over 6,000 members, FREA is one of the largest and most well respected professional associations in the country, providing E&O Insurance for appraisers and inspectors as well as educational opportunities, member benefits, and legal support.
Brian L. Trotrier

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Ganter Brothers versus AppraisersIt’s been a few months since we issued our last update on our friends (and yours) the Ganter brothers (Chris and Ben). The Ganters have suffered what for most people would be a series of embarrassing setbacks in their blatant attempts to use the legal system to pressure appraisers and/or their E&O carriers into paying off what we view as frivolous claims to save the cost of litigating the underlying dispute. For those of you who are reading this for the first time, we have issued two other alerts about this in the past 18 months. Links to the earlier blog posts are footnoted below as are links to some other articles written by other sources close to the situation.

The bottom line is that in the good old United States anyone can sue anybody for any reason with very little risk of having to pay for abusing the legal system by flooding it with frivolous claims. The Ganters are not the first, nor will they be the last, to exploit this fact. They began their efforts as long ago as 2008 when they first started pursuing claims against appraisers for negligent overvaluation using the entity Heritage Pacific Financial. Once Heritage itself was sanctioned by several courts and became the target of a class action, it filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors. Not to worry though, the Ganters were not done by any means.

They next set up a new entity called Savant Claims Management, LLC and Savant began issuing threatening letters to appraisers seeking compensation for overvaluation. Apparently these letters did not result in a flood of voluntary payments by appraisers or their E&O carriers so in 2014 two new Ganter entities (Mutual First, LLC and First Mutual Group, LP) began filing lawsuits en masse against appraisers seeking to trigger coverage by E&O carriers that would be more than willing to settle for a few dollars to save the cost of litigating. Most recently, the Ganters have set up another entity called Llano Financing Group, LLC and filed yet another batch of lawsuits against appraisers. Many of the cases filed by Mutual First, First Mutual, and Llano Financing have been filed in federal court rather than state court which may increase the cost to defend.

In virtually every case, the entity created by the Ganters alleges it acquired from one or more lenders the right to pursue collection for appraisal overvaluation issues by “buying” the remnants of the defaulted and often already foreclosed mortgage loan. The complaints go on to state that a review of the original appraisal has been completed and the reviewer reported finding USPAP violations which support the allegation of overvaluation. The trouble we see with this is that the reviewer is also presumably a licensed appraiser who may be in violation of the geographic competency requirements of USPAP. Conveniently, the reviewer is not identified by name in the complaint so for all we know the review was done for a case of free beer by a friend of the Ganters who cannot even spell appraisal.

At last count, Ganter entities have filed roughly 500 lawsuits against close to 700 appraisers in multiple state and federal courts. If this count is even close to accurate it would dwarf the number of lawsuits filed against appraisers by the FDIC when it was cleaning up the files of banks that failed between 2007 and 2010. Quite frankly, this is absurd. Due to ridiculous litigation like this, many people who have suffered real, compensable injuries are forced to wait months or even years to get their day in court. Our legal system is broken and needs to be fixed. The English system makes the losing party pay the fees and costs incurred by the winner and acts as an effective deterrent to the mass filing of frivolous claims. We may have better weather and better food than the Brits, but our legal system is operating in the dark ages and needs a serious makeover. However, any reasonable reform efforts have been opposed by lobbyists for the lawyers that benefit financially from leaving things the way they are. So much for doing what’s right for the majority…

Turning back to the allegations made by the Ganters, here is a list of both factual and legal issues that should be raised if you find yourself the target of one of these lawsuits. Feel free to share it with your attorney. Who knows, it might help.

  • First and most important, if you do not have E&O insurance or you know your current policy has a retro date that does not cover the appraisal in question, inform the attorney representing the Ganter entity of that fact immediately. If there is no way to trigger coverage and access insurance proceeds, the enthusiasm for spending money to chase an individual appraiser for damages is likely to diminish significantly. To prove this you may have to tender the claim and get a formal declination of coverage, but that usually only takes a week or two.
  • Next, ask for the name of the reviewer and get their qualifications and license number. If they are reviewing work outside of the state where they are licensed, then turn them in to the appropriate state agency.
  • Ask to see the documents evidencing the sale of the loan to the Ganter entity and be sure to get a copy of the assignment that purports to transfer the right to litigate overvaluation claims.
  •  Ask for full list of all of the members and investors in each entity used by the Ganters to pursue these claims and request a list of all cases the entities have filed in state or federal court since 2008.
  • Ask for documentation showing what the Ganter entity paid for the loan in question. Every complaint we have seen makes it sound like the lender’s losses have been passed to the Ganter entities, but if that is true then so have the defenses to the claim and in particular the statute of limitations.
  • Ask for a detailed accounting of the amount of damages claimed. Not surprisingly, it may show the date of the loss due to default/foreclosure is much earlier than what is being alleged in the complaint and this impacts when the statute of limitations will start running, especially in states that use a discovery rule.
  • Ask for the name of the original lender that funded the loan. This may not be the entity that sold the loan to the Ganter entity. The reason for this is to find out if the original lender followed its own lending guidelines when the loan was funded. If it did not, then all subsequent sales of the loan, including the one to the Ganter entity, may be tainted. In laymen’s terms if you shoot yourself in the foot, you cannot sue anyone else for pulling the trigger.
  • Finally, ask to depose one of the Ganters so you can ask them to explain why Heritage Pacific was sanctioned so often by the courts that it eventually filed bankruptcy.

We will continue to follow this story and will report back to you with further developments as soon as we have them. Here are some links to other blogs or articles about the same groups.

  1. Appraisers Beware, A Possible New Scam Discovered by FREA
  2. FREA Scam Alert Update – First Mutual Group, Savant Claims Management, and Pacific Financial
  3. The Mass Litigation Phenomenon
  4. Texas company files 2nd lawsuit over appraisals in Lake County
  5. Mutual First, LLP and First Mutual Group, LP: Profits through Litigation

Brian L. Trotrier

Brian L. Trotrier

A former practicing attorney with more than 30 years experience in real estate and risk management. The Foundation of Real Estate Associates (FREA) has specialized in providing Errors & Omissions Insurance to appraisers and home inspectors since 1993. As a membership organization with over 6,000 members, FREA is one of the largest and most well respected professional associations in the country, providing E&O Insurance for appraisers and inspectors as well as educational opportunities, member benefits, and legal support.

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5 Responses

  1. First, I’ll THANK Mr. Trotier for informing us about this situation. Seriously and sincerely.

    Then I need to point out that the article itself seems to wander off into different issues with no clear sense of direction other than “Ganters bad & appraisers vulnerable.”

    Are appraisers being asked to change the American legal system? IF so, you just lost all the democrat readers. To act as attorneys ourselves and pursue out of state “review” appraisers? Oppose banking interest lobbies? All of the above?

    IF an entity or entities are out there filing nuisance suits, then who better to put an end to them than the very E&O insurers that are the bait for such suits in the first place? Most appraisers don’t have either the money OR THE ABILITY to counter sue. E&O coverage includes the right of the insurer to ‘settle’ cases even where appraisers not only say “No, please do not do that”, but “HELL NO! Don’t Do It!”

    ALL the E&O company attorney has to do are those very things they tell US to do! They can compel copies of the so called reviews to be provided (which themselves can then be reviewed for USPAP compliance and adequacy). They can then post copies of those reviews on the internet for ALL appraisers to see and to hold the quality of work up for the reviewers peers to see and opine about “in the public interest” ; and or  file multiple complaints to the state agencies.

    No doubt FREA and others do not want to litigate these cases. Until they do, the suits wont stop. Use the same gunshot analogy. You can’t shoot yourselves in the foot and then expect US to somehow bail you out. The next time an appraisers insists they did nothing wrong, DON’T SETTLE the case!

    Find out WHO is selling these and other discounted bulk loans. Are they acquiring them from FNMA? IF so, have THEY complied with FNMA’s own bidder requirements and guarantees? Those are pretty strict. Possibly the E&O providers can get the Ganters disqualified for future bids?

    I REALLY want to be on the E&O provider side on this, but they make hard do so. HOW ABOUT HELPING US OUT WITH LIMITING LIABILITY VERBIAGE that will make it through FNMA?

    At a minimum how about sending summaries (ONLY with original appraisers permission) or case citations to the American Guild of Appraisers (AGA) so that we can build up a database of offenders?

    IF Mr. Trotier and FREA are serious, then contact the AGA (OPEIU/AFL-CIO) all well as other professional peer groups such as AI; ASA, NAIFA, etc. and lets develop a coordinated plan to oppose these types suits. You can reach AGA at (301) 220-4100 and ask for Peter Vidi (President); or call me at (&14) 366 9404 (Mike Ford-Peer Review Committee Chairman: and other “Special Projects”). Among us we can certainly arrange for local area expertise; possibly at no cost.

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  2. bubba jay bubba jay says:

    yay! another article about suing appraisers!!

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  3. Angela says:

    I don’t believe the Ganter’s and their never ending crop of new companies will be a threat for much longer. His house of cards is collapsing. There is currently a warrant out on his arrest for skipping court dates and bond repayment. He is bouncing checks. His lawyers keep quitting and he has so many court dates that he can’t keep track of them.

    He is being sued for non-payment of school taxes for two years and his property taxes have not been paid. The IRS and Dept of Justice are listed as defendants which would lead me to believe they have an interest in his property likely to suspicion that he did not pay taxes on money earned and that he “earned” the money in an illegal manner. The last couple of times he was arrested he couldn’t seem to come up with the bail money and had to use a bail bondsman. His bail was $500 and $1000.

    I believe he is a con man and would think his companies are actually Ponzi type schemes (and this may explain the Dept of Justice interest in his home).

    I first became interested in this man due to the way he and his family behave. Every day for a year his wife cut me off in the carpool line. She would bypass the line, go straight to the front, double park with her flashers going and wait for her girlie to jump in and then take off. Her children are obnoxious bragging about how rich they are and how big their house is and the fact that they would never buy anything on sale. I thought to myself “what does this man do that they seemingly have so much money and are so flashy”. A little internet research and I came to see that he has a long history of criminal activity and scamming/bottom feeding.

    While all this going on his still has lawn service, his wife posts about how great her house looks after the window cleaners have come and they still act like rules are for other people.
    He is a toothless shark whose house of cards should collapse soon.

    Thank you for helping others to see how to not be afraid of him and his lawsuits. Hopefully he gets his just desserts soon.

    Keep on keeping people aware.

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  4. Mike Ford Mike Ford says:

    Interesting update Angela. I don’t know them one way or another. If what you are reporting is accurate, then I think you are right. They have problems of a kind that do not usually end well.

    I appreciate the call I received from Brian Trotier who provided a LOT of background. The position insurers find themselves in is not that dissimilar than the position appraisers find themselves in with respect to AMCs.

    We all KNOW what the obvious solutions are, but our individual business needs preclude us from joining together to DO what needs to be done. Hopefully FREA and AGA will be able to work together on this and other issues in the future.

    Once again I can’t say how grateful I am to have this blog available to all of us. I’ve received more calls and emails as a result of this blog than any other information source I use. Great for both networking, and informing ourselves & each other about appraisal issues and concerns.

    Other good sources include WorkingRE and Rey Cano over at Malibu Appraisal. Thanks to all but especially:

    Thanks AB!

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    • Mike,
      we are grateful to you and appreciate your contributions on this blog, for getting the conversations started, for educating and informing appraisers about key issues affecting all of us, and volunteering your time to help your peers. We, at AB, love hearing from you!

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