Author: Peter Christensen

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Warning for Appraisers about CoStar Copyrights and Licenses

CoStar in its “John Doe” case… In the last week, CoStar Realty Information has filed several lawsuits against commercial appraisers and real estate brokers for intentional copyright violations and fraud relating to the alleged use of CoStar property data and photos without proper registration/payment. If you use CoStar, be sure you are doing so properly and within the terms of your license agreement. Examples of the types of alleged situations that have led to CoStar’s recent and past copyright lawsuits are: (1) sharing IDs/passwords, (2) obtaining an ID/password for an appraiser or other person who is not employed with the company...

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“Fake” Appraiser E&O Insurance and Shady Things from AMCs Too

Outright Fake E&O For many appraisers and also some AMCs (appraisal management companies), the only reason they purchase professional liability insurance (E&O) is because a client requires them to show coverage in order to receive work.  The fact that some appraisers and AMCs only look at insurance as an “E&O ticket” leads to some unfortunate examples of fraud, which appraisers, firms, AMCs and clients should be aware of. Before I get to the fakery, however, I’ll explain that our purpose in providing E&O, and also the reason that most of our insureds purchase it, is because E&O first serves the insured by providing...

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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against BPO and AMC Firms for Allegedly Unpaid Fees

Unpaid BPO Fees Class Action On December 2, 2013, three law firms in Florida, Washington and Colorado teamed together to file a class action complaint on behalf of real estate agents and others allegedly owed unpaid fees for broker price opinions ordered by BrokerPriceOpinion.com. The complaint also names three-related companies First Valuation, LLC, First Valuation Services, LLC, and First Valuation Technology, LLC as defendants on the basis that they are “alter egos” of BrokerPriceOpinion.com and do not have true corporate separateness in their operation. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Colorado, where the defendants are based. The named plaintiff in...

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Regulatory Claims Exclusion

Navigators Sues More Appraisers to Deny Coverage under “Regulatory Claims” Exclusion Last Thursday, November 14, Navigators Insurance Company sued two more appraisers to enforce “regulatory claims” exclusions in the E&O policies they purchased. These appraisers are in Nevada. Like the appraiser sued by Navigators in Florida on November 6, the Nevada appraisers are being sued by the FDIC for professional negligence in cases filed about a year ago. The objective of Navigators’ lawsuits is to seek court confirmation of Navigators’ legal position that there is no coverage under Navigators’ policy for damages awarded against the appraisers to the FDIC, which is demanding about $500,000...

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Federal Court Rules on USPAP Confidentiality Issue in FDIC Lawsuit Against Appraisers in Colorado

On September 5, 2013, in a professional negligence case against two Colorado appraisers by the FDIC, a federal court ruled on an issue concerning USPAP confidentiality.  It was a simple issue, but it’s one of the very few court decisions relating to USPAP’s poorly written confidentiality rule (this previous post here explains why the rule is poorly written).  This is the rule: 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...

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Appraisal Management Company (AMC) License Bonds. Are They Working?

Current AMC Bond Requirements Eighteen states now require AMCs to carry surety bonds to be properly registered to operate in those states. The required bond amounts vary from $10,000 in New Mexico to $100,000 in Washington.  A list at the end of this post shows the required bond amounts in each state. Are AMC Bonds Working? The requirement for AMCs to carry bonds serves two purposes.  First, the bond assures that if an AMC fails to comply with its financial obligations under a state’s AMC law, there will be funds available up to the limit of the bond to pay those...

Appraisers E&O FDIC Exclusions - Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 3

FDIC Exclusions in Appraiser E&O Policies

Many appraisers don’t know about or don’t understand the new FDIC and “regulatory agency” exclusions found in many appraiser E&O policies. Why is it relevant to know if your policy has an FDIC or regulatory agency exclusion of some sort? The main reason is because the FDIC sues appraisers for professional negligence — such lawsuits are discussed in prior posts: here and here. How do you determine if a policy being offered to you contains an FDIC exclusion? First, no policy sold by LIA in its appraiser E&O program contains any FDIC or similar regulatory agency exclusion. If you are...

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Former Chief Appraiser Sues AMC

Former Chief Appraiser Sues Appraisal Management Company Over Alleged Appraisal Independence Violations With respect to appraisal management companies (AMCs), based on the large volume of appraisal regulatory and legal matters that we track, I feel comfortable stating that there is no material governmental enforcement of the appraisal independence rules adopted in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (or in the earlier rules adopted by the Federal Reserve Board in 2008 as part of Regulation Z). Neither the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau nor any state attorneys general have undertaken any significant investigations or taken any significant legal actions...

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Tax-Related Appraiser Liability Claims

In the last several years, we have seen more negligence claims relating to appraisals performed for tax purposes, especially appraisals for conservation easements, charitable deductions, and estate or gift tax.  The IRS is particularly focused at this time on scrutinizing appraisals of conservation and preservation easements submitted for the purpose of substantiating a charitable deduction by the property owner/tax payer.  Here, the property owner is generally proposing to record an easement over his property to protect a natural aspect or preserve historic features like a building facade.  The easement typically will be donated to and held by a charitable organization,...

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Appraiser Confidentiality: USPAP Absurdity

Appraiser Confidentiality: Loose Lips, Big Claims, USPAP Absurdity, and Subpoenas Allegedly “Loose Lips” Cause a Big Claim. A recent and relatively big appraiser liability claim involved a commercial appraiser’s alleged breach of confidentiality.  The damages paid to the plaintiff were significant.  According to the plaintiff’s complaint (my recounting of the facts here is simplified), a lender had engaged the appraiser to perform an appraisal for a construction loan to the developer of a shopping center.  Some of the information received by the appraiser included lease commitments from prospective tenants. The anchor tenant was a well-known retailer.  The appraiser completed the assignment, but...

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