I Can’t Talk About This Appraisal Even if They Waterboard Me!
Anyone who appraises real property long enough stands a decent chance of being swept up in a divorce.
There you are, minding your own business…opening the snail mail in hopes that your clients have finally sent those checks when… A subpoena pops out accompanied by a check for some chump-change amount.
What you discover is a subpoena originating from a law firm you never heard of…about a couple getting divorced whose name is unfamiliar…but the property address looks vaguely familiar.
You appraised this house in 2012…for a refi. But now some strange lawyer wants you to bring this dusty refi report to court with you…next Tuesday!
Upon receiving a subpoena the natural first reaction for many appraisers is similar to finding out that they have a rare and fatal disease.
After the initial panic subsides some appraisers get all USPAPpy.
“I’m not going to respond to this! Neither the lawyer nor the divorcing couple were my client!”
“This is all confidential information…I can’t talk about this appraisal even if they waterboard me!”
Here’s what USPAP states:
An appraiser must protect the confidential nature of the appraiser-client relationship.
An appraiser must act in good faith with regard to the legitimate interests of the client in the use of confidential information and in the communication of assignment results.
An appraiser must be aware of, and comply with, all confidentiality and privacy laws and regulations applicable in an assignment.
An appraiser must not disclose: (1) confidential information; or (2) assignment results to anyone other than:
- the client;
- persons specifically authorized by the client;
- state appraiser regulatory agencies;
- third parties as may be authorized by due process of law; or
- a duly authorized professional peer review committee except when such disclosure to a committee would violate applicable law or regulation.
There it is. Due process of law.
That’s what a subpoena falls under within USPAP.
As to how relevant a 2012 report completed for a refinance might be in a marital dissolution in 2014 is fodder for another article.
By Brian Weaver – Illinois Appraiser Newsletters – Volume 7, Issue 3