Should you disclose portal fees…
Some of you know that I have written numerous times about my viewpoint that disclosure of the ‘back end’, and sometimes 'front end' portal fees we appraisers must pay toto a particular client should be disclosed. You don’t have to report the FEE, only that you had to ‘pay a fee’ to the assignment. If you don’t pay the fee, you technically cannot complete the assignment.
My viewpoint has always been, and will remain, that if you cannot technically ‘complete’ an assignment without paying a delivery fee, then the net result is the appraiser should disclose that obligation (not the exact amount paid) in order to RECEIVE the assignment.
Today (11/30/17), the Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) issued a Q&A saying that disclosure of this kind of fee is not required. You can read it here:
They don’t explain what kind of payments MUST be disclosed. The circular logic the ASB presents says that a 'portal fee' is a contractual obligation that DOES NOT have to be disclosed. But. No one will fault you for doing so.
I will, of course, wear my heavy gauge suit of armor waiting for broken clipboards, spears and stones being thrown in my direction!
One thing to keep in mind, always, isare NOT technical parts of USPAP. They are . Their document says so:
“The USPAP Q&A may not represent the only possible solution to the issues discussed nor may the advice provided be applied equally to seemingly similar situations. USPAP Q&A does not establish new standards or interpret existing standards. USPAP Q&A is not part of USPAP and is approved by the ASB without public exposure and comment.”
All my reports are written starting from a pre-written template, (never by cloning a prior report). That template has an Addendum statement about ‘paying a fee’ to RECEIVE the assignment, which I include whenever there is any kind of 'back end' or ‘front end’ fee to be paid when the report is transmitted back to the client. If no such payment is required, like via non-portal direct assignments with reports sent via email, or when using portals without fee payments, then I remove that statement.
As in so much of our work, there are multiple interpretations of seemingly simple-to-understand issues. Appraisers should carefully evaluate all issues, and comply with the intent of USPAP when preparing reports.