Author: Peter Christensen

AMC License Bonds 1

AMC License Bonds. Are They Working?

Are AMC Bonds 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...

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...

Former Chief appraiser sues AMC 7

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...

Washington State Raises AMC Bond Requirement to $100,000 1

Washington State Raises AMC Bond Requirement to $100,000

As a direct result of the recent financial failure of appraisal management companies like Evaluation Solutions and ES Appraisal, the State of Washington recently enacted a new law raising the state’s AMC bond requirement from $25,000 to $100,000.  As of July 28, 2013, all AMCs registered in Washington will be required to carry a bond in the new amount. One of the purposes of the bond is to provide security for payments owed to appraisers by AMCs. If an AMC fails to pay an appraiser in accordance with Washington’s requirements, the appraiser then may have a claim against the AMC’s bond....

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Overtime Lawsuits Continue to Spread

Overtime Lawsuits Continue to Spread Among Valuation-Related Companies — Interthinx Becomes the Latest Defendant First it was Integrated Asset Services.  In February, I wrote here about three employee overtime class actions affecting the Colorado AMC filed on behalf of “timeline managers,” “valuation managers” and “quality reviewers.”  Then it was LandSafe Appraisal.  In April, I wrote an article about a newly filed overtime lawsuit by staff appraisers against that company. There is definitely now a small wave of overtime litigation unde the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) affecting businesses in valuation-related fields.  The industry has become an easy target for...

Another Overtime Class Action Filed Against an AMC - Imagecredit Flickr - moppet65535 1

Another Overtime Class Action Filed Against an AMC

A lawsuit filed last week by a former staff appraiser against LandSafe Appraisal Services, Inc. exemplifies the overtime liability risk faced by many appraisal firms and appraisal management companies. In February, I wrote that overtime lawsuits by appraisers present a genuine liability risk to appraisal firms and AMCs.  In that article, I explained some of the special issues relating to whether appraisers properly can be treated as “exempt” employees for purposes of overtime compensation.  The real-world risk to an appraisal firm or AMC is that a staff appraiser will file a legal action alleging that he or she worked more...

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Read That Agreement Before You Sign or Leap

Having the most unfair agreement will cause the lender or AMC to lose those appraisers I recently ran across the provision below in a new contractor agreement between an AMC and its panel appraisers, when one of LIA’s insured appraisers asked me to take a look at the agreement. The contract contained the average indemnification provision found in most unfair AMC contracts in which an appraiser promises to defend and reimburse the AMC for “any and all liabilities, damages, costs and expenses (including all legal fees) arising out of or relating to any claim, action, suit, complaint, liability, damage, or other...

Overtime Lawsuits Affecting Appraisal Firms, Lenders and AMCs - Imagecredit Flickr - Pictures of Money 1

Overtime Lawsuits Affecting Appraisal Firms, Lenders and AMCs

Are employee appraisers of appraisal firms, AMCs or lenders “exempt” from overtime pay under the FLSA? Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees in most types of businesses are required to be paid overtime at 1.5x their hourly rate if they work more than 40 hours in a seven-day workweek, unless they are properly classified as “exempt.” As I’ll show in three cases below against an appraisal firm, a lender and an AMC, this law presents a genuine liability risk to businesses in the valuation industry. Let’s start with what should seem like a basic question: Are employee...

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