Appraiser Safety, Stalked by Homeowner
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Personal safety of appraisers
I have several issues that focus on PERSONAL SAFETY of appraisers especially female appraisers that I need to address.
I had a recent event where a homeowner was not happy with the appraised value of his home. Four weeks after I had turned in the appraisal, the lender, Freedom Mortgage, proceeded to send five sales that were 16 to 29 months old, for my review. I responded via StreetLinks AMC communication log stating these were not within FNMA guidelines. A few weeks later StreetLinks sent me the following:
Good afternoon, the lender has ordered a second appraisal for this property that was completed by another appraiser in your area. Both reports were completed within the same time frame and reporting differences were noted. In an effort to resolve discrepancies, please address the following reporting differences…
I responded that their request was for a Review Appraisal. I added that I would gladly perform one for a customary and reasonable fee. StreetLinks did not agree with my comment of a Review Appraisal and stated “Don’t you want to defend your report?” I replied “my report does not need to be defended.” I then quoted Dodd-Frank and warned them of coercion, intimidation, and various other violations.
The homeowner must not have been happy because he proceeded to call me. I immediately informed StreetLinks and asked them to notify the lender. A couple of weeks later, I see the homeowner’s name in my Facebook account as a potential friend. A day or so later I see his name in my Hotmail contacts. When vacationing out of the country, I logged in to my dormant Skype account and saw his name among my contact lists. I had not used Skype for several years.
I have a teenage daughter at home. Now I am worried and wondering if this person has driven by my house? Has he seen my daughter coming and going? What else does he have in mind? A mother’s worst nightmare.
I have a stalker and needless to say I had to make a few changes to my reports and to the way I conduct business. I no longer include my license or E&O Insurance declaration page in my appraisal reports. I have sent a request to DPOR to change my address to a PO Box. I have changed my address on my E&O Insurance declaration page to a PO Box. My PO box is in a different city than where I live. I now use a prepaid cell phone for calls. I am in the process of updating all my clients to a new e-mail address. My safety has been threatened. My life and my families’ life has been turned upside down. All because of a disgruntled homeowner.
I also notified my E&O insurance and told them about the disgruntled homeowner. They opened a claim and then closed the pending claim. Upon renewal I received the following from LANDY in an email:
I have reviewed your renewal application. We will continue to offer terms in the individual appraiser program; however, it will be subject to an additional 15% debit due to the open claim. The premium will be $598 x 1.15 = $688.00. Please revise the Premium Payment Options form to reflect payment of that premium amount and initial and date the revision. Please return the revised payment form to my attention. Once we have that, we can process your payment and send your confirmation of coverage.
So, I get stalked by a homeowner. I inform my E&O insurance. And I get penalized for being stalked!
Recently, I advised another client, Nationwide Property & Appraisal Services, that I will no longer add my license and E&O information in my reports, for safety concerns. Including the license and E&O declaration page in appraisal reports is in their engagement letter. They say it is a requirement. I told them that I would send these documents separately because I didn’t want my personal information such as my residence’s address to be made public. Not like they didn’t already have these documents on file. They came back and said, “In order to close the loan, any mortgage company must have proof that their appraisal was done by an adequately licensed appraiser.” In other words, the appraiser’s information in reports is not good enough, and clients are not capable of checking appraisers’ credentials on the Appraisal Subcommittee website. The AMC then stated,
“Jodi, the license is public record. So if someone really wants it they can find it anyway. And if they have a copy of the appraisal they will know your name, address, company name, phone number, etc. The E&O being separate is fine. I get that this could encourage homeowners to try to file unfounded claims. But the license needs to be there. IT IS NOT CREATING ANY EXTRA RISK AND IT IS REQUIRED THROUGHOUT THE INDUSTRY.”
I NEVER added my license or E&O information in my reports when I had banks, lenders and mortgage companies as clients. Only AMCs require this information. When did this become industry standard?
I posted a commentary on Facebook regarding appraisers’ personal safety issues, stalkers and whether other appraisers included their license and E&O information in reports. The amount of responses that I received was over whelming. I was surprised to learn that they were other appraisers that had faced similar safety issues. One appraiser had even been confronted in his residence by a disgruntled homeowner. I received hundreds of responses and many provided safety advice, and encouragement. AMCs need to be concerned about the safety of appraisers and should eliminate handing over personal information to the public.
I would like to share some of the many advice I received from other appraisers. Check in on Facebook before you enter a home for an inspection. Leave an itinerary of your daily events. Listen to your gut and document items that you think are suspicious. If you are not comfortable when you pull up for an inspection, leave and make another appointment. Notify the lender that it was unsafe and you will be taking someone with you on the inspection. If you are comfortable, carry mace for protection. Take notes in case something does happen so the authorities can easily find it. STAY SAFE!!