BREA the Energizer Bunny of Appraiser Abuse
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The gift that just keeps on giving and giving. BREA is the Energizer Bunny of Appraiser abuse.
Anyone following AppraisersBlogs knows I’m no fan of BREA. I helped Zach Schorr humiliate them in court on a daily basis, for five days in a row in mid-2017. That result was that the Administrative Law Judge found myself and codefendant (respondent) to have “credibly testified.” The states witness to have “embarrassed” herself in testimony and original actions giving rise to the case; and very politely simply concluded that “BREA had not met the burden of proof” for one single charge or allegation.
Keep in mind that both myself and fellow respondent also directly testified a Senior State Investigator (John Schmidt) engaged in extremely serious wrong doing under color of authority. An accusation he committed perjury to deny. (Yes, Johnny we are ALL still willing to testify to that in Superior court should you wish to revisit your trial testimony and remove yourself and Bureau from the statutory umbrella preventing us from suing you & Seaters personally). The depth of the corruption we were subjected to goes on much further than I want to get into right now. It was extremely egregious.
I’ve tried to use our very costly experiences to aid other appraisers in avoiding similar unsupported charges and allegations. Even those outside California.
Recently a copy of another complaint letter notifying an appraiser of their own complaint was forwarded to me. It looks like it originated about a year and a half after my own case. I redacted the letter date and addressee as well as property address so there is less likelihood of BREA being too conveniently able to further retaliate against the appraiser. The appraiser is taking their own separate public and or legal actions regarding this.
The first paragraph of the BREA letter stresses how critical it is that a complete work file and exact copy of the appraisal report is. I redacted the property address but let’s concede it was probably properly reported by BREA.
The first real issue of concern that I see is the ‘date’ of the work or “Report Date” that a complaint was made for. “Any and All” is not a specific date. It’s not even a reasonable approximation.
Like many appraisers I have clients and properties for whom I have made multiple appraisals over the years. Some properties were the same property performed for different clients over more than a ten-year span.
If a complaint is made related to work one does in 2018, the BREA is not entitled to work files for that property dated in 2007, or 2012. If the complaint is made by non-client “C” as a seller in 2018 about a 2018 appraisal, then BREA is not entitled to another work file (hypothetical) done in 2016 for client party “A” who bought the property as a fixer and flipped it to non-client party “C” in 2017. Assuming my prior work was properly disclosed in the 2018 report. (Illustrative only – wasn’t applicable here).
“Any and all” dates are nothing more than a fishing expedition. If what they mean are multiple versions of one report prepared around a specific date, that would be understandable. They should say so if that is the case. We know BREA considers corrections to be ‘new’ report versions and that all previous versions are still subject to disciplinary scrutiny and punishment, even if subsequently corrected.
USPAP doesn’t demand perfection, BREA does.
The second paragraph asks for work files for all other services involving that property without limitation on when those services were provided. This is beyond the three-year USPAP required disclosure.
Appraisers are not required to maintain files for more than five years. This demand inserts an unlimited time aspect into the file demand. One that goes far beyond USPAP requirements.
The second half of the second paragraph goes even further. It demands a disclosure of ANY and ALL services ever performed involving the property. Whether an appraisal (practice) or appraisal related service at all. If this appraiser were also a surveyor doing a boundary survey six years ago, they are demanding explanations for that as well?
What if it was a Habitat for Humanity house that the appraiser volunteered time on four years ago. Some things are simply none of BREAs damned business; nor within their authority. (They’ve been cited by the State Auditor for exceeding authority and their jurisdiction in the past). Apparently that lesson didn’t ‘stick’ any more than the prohibition against continuing to shred documents did.
The appraiser is also required to sign a statement under penalty of perjury that the information being provided is correct and complete. How does one do that with no known date for the report in question?
For a BREA employee to caution anyone else about perjury is both ironic and ludicrous considering their own actions. Both under oath and in routine but official communications. The BREA logo should be changed to a round red circle with a diagonal ‘no Pinocchio’s’ stripe though it.
It’s the fourth paragraph where the first hint of their ongoing, and systemic dishonesty appears. There is no such thing as an informal telephone interview. They use the phrase twice to reinforce the misrepresented ‘informal’ non-threatening nature of the call(s) that they will make.
Anything that is said there will absolutely be used agaisnt the appraiser even if it has to be twisted, mischaracterized or deliberately misstated later. Anything that can be mischaracterized, likely will be mischaracterized.
Make no mistake, the process by BREA IS a third degree and is intended for entrapment – not eliciting exculpatory information. It is a lot of things, but ‘informal’ is not one of them.
The nature of the interview is further mischaracterized with the statement that it is an opportunity for you to present further information you believe is relevant to your case. BREA would be more credible if they identified the appraisal report date or dates in question!
Unlike more reputable appraisal regulatory agencies across the nation, BREA does NOT provide a copy of the complaint to the appraiser, so they know what the issue is. They don’t really care. They only want the work file so they can look for technicalities or vulnerabilities they can exploit. Appraisal quality and adequacy in the context of the reports identified intended use is irrelevant to BREA.
I have redacted the signature of the BREA letter author to prevent its misuse. The presumptive innocent have had their name(s) further redacted. State employees can try to defend their own actions.
No state should be permitted to judge other appraisers USPAP compliance if they cannot /do not follow USPAP review standards themselves. No exceptions.
I invite BREA to respond. However, I already know they don’t dare. Too hard to refute truth.
Great job Michael. We must maintain the same level of responsibility by our government for which we are held accountable.
Thanks MIke for all you do
Kudos Mike! BREA is corrupt
Your talking points are always spot on mike
Wow, a little bit insulting. Did they really think anyone (let alone Mike Ford) would fall for this? Kind of comical. The letter they sent was based on passive-aggressive intimidation. That’s when you know they are full of crap and have nothing to go on but desperation. That was their last feeble attempt at trying to scare you to give in?
Hi, my name is Angelina and my name appears on page 3 of the above pdf image. I am a qualified appraiser with 18 years of experience. In 2016, I refused to change my sales comparables and the AMC principals bullied, harassed and refused to pay me. When push came to shove, the AMC reluctantly paid the meager $395 fee and added the language of “Extortion Payment” on the bank wire transfer to add insult to injury. The AMC then requested I complete the second appraisal report, which was done without issue of payment. Unbeknown to me, the AMC filed a complaint with BREA without noticing me or providing an opportunity to respond. The AMC stated “they had friends at BREA“.
Based on due process and the Constitution, an accused has the right to face their accuser and answer the allegations. As can be clearly indicated by the 2016 correspondence above, BREA’s officers were on nothing more than a fishing expedition. When challenged to the nature of the complaint, BREA officers refused to identify the parties to the complaint, the nature of the complaint or the alleged regulations violated. Under the Constitution, without a bonafide complaint, I did not consent to handing any documentation over to them in 2016.
Every appraiser needs to understand they have rights under the Constitution and if they do not exercise their rights of due process and choose to volunteer information, they then waive their rights and have none. They would then have contracted by their free will and legal ignorance, entering into a contract separate from USPAP or public policy; most appraisers have little understanding of contract law as it relates to perjury charges.
While my certified license was neither revoked nor suspended in 2016 or 2017, BREA refused to renew my license on Feb. 5, 2018 – which is clearly a sign of retaliation. BREA’s officers even refused to hold an administrative hearing as required under their own regulations. My final advice:
1) Do not grant an agency [BREA] authority or jurisdiction they do not have;
2) Do not volunteer evidence;
3) Confirm there is a valid complaint;
4) Have the agency show cause and show evidence;
5) Do not sign a consent decree; and
6) It is all done by contract (read the fine print and know your rights).
Respectfully, I must disagree with several of Angelina’s suggestions (as I did with her back in February at the onset of my learning some of these difficulties).
Personally I think she has been treated egregiously but then I have been given more background that its possible of prudent to print here.
BREA IS in my personal opinion a corrupt organization. I base THAT statement on my own experiences with them that I’ve previously written about. Specifically related to the outright fabricated allegations made up by Elisabeth Seaters (former head of Enforcement for BREA); and the direct perjury in testimony (twice) committed by BREA Sr. Review Appraiser John Scmidt during the Administrative Law Hearing on my own case (which we WON).
Having said this, I cannot in good conscience recommend any appraiser NOT submit their required work files when directed to do so by BREA.
This is a fundamental state license requirement. It’s my understanding Angelina was acting on advice of legal counsel when she agreed conditionally to send her work file.
AGA does not and has not given or offered legal advice to Angelina. We represent her in her case in any way. (She’s not actually an AGA member); though I’ve spoken with her at length. I am highly impressed by her willingness to take on a giant bureaucracy; but I’m sure she’d be the first to admit the price for doing so is high. There are pending issues in that regard and I can say no more.
In all cases as complex as this, or before challenging the BREA I always urge parties to obtain competent California legal representation. It’s my understanding she has done so.
All appraisers should be aware that prosecuting a case against BREA as well as defending against them can be very costly.
The BEST solution for cost conscious appraisers is to avoid incurring such costs completely – IF it is possible to do so.
You have all read the language from the state as as noted by other posters, it IS meant to be intimidating. I am in awe of her willingness to fight back knowing in advance the cost could be high. I disclosed early that our own successful defense costs were in excess of $140,000 (& BREA tried to claim their own investigatory costs of $87,000 which the JUDGE DENIED! (for any California taxpayers out there).
Can ANYONE reading this imagine a civil or criminal case in which the accusations against one would not be spelled out AND the accuser identified BEFORE a formal legal ‘answer’ to a complaint is given? Oddly, Administrative Law appears to exempt itself from the most fundamental of U.S. Constitutional protections. The right to confront one’s accusers.
BTW – Anyone remember Peter Christensen’s recent article posted here in AB? California Appellate Court has NEGATED the right or ability of third parties to sue an appraiser, for very valid reasons…yet BREA continues to allow such third parties to abuse the process in order to bolster possible civil suits for monetary damage claims against appraisers or to augment their own solutions to budgetary burdens arising from declining license revenues.
I’ve said it before and repeat it now. California’s Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers needs to be disbanded immediately. They are in my opinion, beyond redemption or the ability to be cleaned up from within state government. Even if that would require waivers on federally regulated loans out here. The corruption is deeply embedded in the managerial culture of BREA. One Former Agency Head was removed & lost his own license. Apparently THAT disgrace in the Bureau has been long forgotten. Lessons ignored.
There are credible allegations that the bureau’s corruption has tainted the State Attorney General’s Office as well. Considering my own experiences with both, I do not doubt for a minute that it is possible or even probable.