New “Misleading” Definition Inviting Problems
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I perused the latest copy of USPAP and saw a new definition on the list: Misleading.
While I appreciate the attempt by TAF to create clarity and their hard work, and appraisers need standards to operate by and USPAP should be that standard, the addition of this word to the list is symbolic of over-regulation.
“Misleading” as a word is a qualitative term and the courts will determine whether something is “intentional” or “unintentional.” In Webster’s dictionary, the word “mislead” already has a negative connotation.
“to lead in a wrong direction or into a mistaken action or belief often by deliberate deceit”
With this USPAP change, appraisers should immediately be less responsive to clarifications requested by banks for obvious clerical mistakes. In other words, if the appraiser made an “unintentional” error that could reverse the meaning of a particular description, they were – by USPAP definition – misleading and that was a violation.
Why would an appraiser ever make a change in their report going forward that was requested by an underwriter? Appraising involves human beings and human beings make mistakes and we need some flexibility. What if a “comma” was missing that changed the interpretation of the description that was made? With this new definition of “misleading,” it doesn’t matter whether the appraiser unintentionally made the error or intentionally made the error. An overzealous soul could go after the appraiser for being misleading but that would be determined by the courts anyway. This new definition is just inviting problems and not protecting the public trust.
This reminds me of the idea behind appraisal standards, to begin with. Making standards more detailed and specific every two years doesn’t make appraisals more accurate or more trustworthy. There is a point where doing things like this devolve into busywork and is not helpful to the profession or the consumer. This is why I believe that USPAP should be updated no less than every five years.
I respectfully request that TAF removes this definition in the next edition and any other qualitative definitions that should be determined by the courts. Otherwise, I am going to propose new definitions for words starting with “The” “A” and “With.”