Appraiser Miller Wins

Appraiser Miller Wins Claim in Racial Discrimination Lawsuit. Appraiser Miller wins important claim in racial discrimination lawsuit. Judge ruled Plaintiffs did not rely on Miller’s appraisal. The other claims continue but this was an important claim. It also shows the Plaintiffs lied to the Court.

ORDER GRANTING MILLER DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; DISMISSING PLAINTIFFS’ SEVENTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF AS ASSERTED AGAINST MILLER DEFENDANTS; VACATING HEARING.

In their Seventh Claim for Relief, 2 plaintiffs allege the Miller Defendants negligently misrepresented “that they were providing an unbiased appraisal of [the Austins’ house],” and that the Austins “reasonably relied” on such representations “in attempting to secure a mortgage loan with favorable terms.”

Although plaintiffs assert the Austins “reasonably relied on defendants’ representations” (see FAC ¶ 106), nothing in the FAC states, or even suggests, the Austins believed the representations in the Miller Defendants’ appraisal report were true. Rather, plaintiffs allege the Austins were “shocked” by the report, did not use it, and, instead, contacted their broker to request a “second appraisal from a different appraiser” (see FAC ¶ 68), as they needed an appraisal in order to “refinance [their] mortgage”

CONCLUSION
Accordingly, the instant motion to dismiss is hereby GRANTED, and plaintiffs’ Seventh Claim for Relief, as asserted against the Miller Defendants, is hereby DISMISSED without further leave to amend. Plaintiffs’ Seventh Claim for Relief, as asserted against the Miller Defendants, is dismissed without further leave to amend.

Signed by Judge Maxine M. Chesney on August 22, 2022.

Background:

Plaintiffs purchased the house on 12/13/2016 at $550,000 from a black family, who had a preference to sell their house to someone of like race and carried out this sale off-market. Post-purchase, 270 square feet of living space was added to the ground level, and the house was renovated. The Austins had an appraisal performed, before the renovation and addition, which came in at $889,000. Appraiser Miller, hired by appraisal services company AMC Links, performed an appraisal in January 2020 which came in at $995,500. Since Appraiser Miller’s appraisal was not high enough for the Austins to achieve their objective, they complained to the lender and another appraisal was ordered. The Austins had a white friend stage their house to appear owned by a white person, and the second appraiser was met for the inspection and informed about the cost of additions and renovations at approximately $400,000. The second appraisal came in at $1,482,500, $487,000 more than Miller’s.

You can follow Mary Cummins blog for up-to-date information for the case.

 

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25 Responses

  1. Avatar Xpert says:

    Good news! And if the plaintiffs lied about this claim, what else did they lie about?

    4
    • Avatar Seneca says:

      They lied when they had a white person stand-in as the home owner. Misrepresenting for financial gain probably is a criminal act.

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      • Avatar Scott says:

        We don’t even know that they actually “whitewashed” the property for the second appraisal. Just sensational hearsay perpetuated by the media without research or verification.

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  2. Avatar Coach says:

    “Plaintiffs purchased the house on 12/13/2016 at $550,000 from a black family, who had a preference to sell their house to someone of like race and carried out this sale off-market.”

    WHO HAD PREFERENCE TO SELL THEIR HOUSE TO SOMEONE OF LIKE RACE?

    Am I reading this correctly? Isn’t this a violation of the Fair Housing Act?

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    • Avatar Scott says:

      I don’t find a problem with this, necessarily. People can sell their property privately (off-market) to anybody they choose. However, since they used this price as a basis for appreciation and added value of improvements made, my question would be, was it sold at market value?

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    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Quite right Scott. Contrary to popular belief, an individual is free to openly select anyone anywhere at any time in any given sale situation however they so choose, especially if they are operating outside of regulated licensing and regulated financing avenues. With licensed representation such non discrimination rules are more readily applicable, but even then sellers can still insist on selling to one party over another, regardless whom offered to pay more, or less.

      This is where the story fell apart before the first bit of informational discovery; The lender on the second round was obviously eager to leverage a higher amount of financial interest in that residential property. The borrowers were at a disadvantage from the start because rather than leveraging an independent loan or investment instrument not tied to the real property, they chose to tie it all up and leverage the real property. There can be no victory in mortgage lending, until the final bill is paid and the title is in your personal vault. The borrower is the mouse, the housing market the maze, and the lender the omnipotent observer who doles out the bits of cheese.

      Up to that point of paying the final bill, anything and everything is just market trades and individuals are free to leverage their interests based on a multitude of values, value in use, value in market, investment value, or even some form of personal value where they purposefully only sell to or buy from one type of person or investor or whatever.

      Such are the influences of the local market. Which is why it’s important to only select local comps. The localized market influences can be from people, industry, environment, governmental, control groups like hoa’s, taxation, amenity, commonality of deferred maintenance or not, planned or achieved community and amenity investment, any sort of combination there to. The racial component is a non sequitur or non issue here. The borrowers wanted a loan, they pursued as much of a loan as they could attain, and even shopped the loan terms before committing. The offensive part of the story is if appraiser B really used out of area comparables which could have caused the borrowers to borrow more than they could have immediately re sold for and then lender B underwrote that allegedly excessive loan.

      Pertaining to the amount of investment in the property, that is inconsequential. It’s not a $purchase price + $additional investment costs = market value type of equation. For depreciated properties with excess deferred maintenance, one could quite easily end up upside down if the cost to repair exceeded personal estimates and budgets in relation to purchase price and hypothetical improved condition market value.

      This is where discounted value analysis comes in, something FSBO sellers take advantage of, and private buyers get duped by constantly. Happens every day of the week, which is where a quality home inspection and independent appraisal must come into play. Even big shot high roller fix and flippers will still use these services, unless they can be assured they’re purchasing at extreme discounts. So market value is relevant too, because what appears to be market value could be far over stated if there are concealed conditions present. We’re talking about a home on the coast exposed to extreme weather conditions and constant moisture, on grade.

      Sometimes and quite often actually, people spend more on homes then they get out of them in the end. It’s the cost of living factor, especially prevalent with additional discounted multipliers needing to be applied in extreme climate and poor soil condition locations. Obviously we can assume the home did not meet regular lending insurability factors to begin with, hence the FSBO status needing to move outside of MLS & licensed representative systems. That whole thing about wanting to sell to the same community, yeah right but that line worked on the buyers. When it comes to the sale, the seller sees one thing; dollar signs in their eyes. In the most interesting follow up to this disseminated story, it appears the borrowers panicked as all those repair dollars flowed out of their pockets. They can blame whomever is proximate to have a finger pointed at them, but in the end standard market rules are applicable. Caveat Emptor.

      https://makeitright.ca/holmes-advice/buying-selling-your-home/why-you-need-a-home-inspection/
      A house is the biggest investment most people ever make in their lives—and it doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee.

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      • Avatar Scott says:

        Spot on, Baggins.

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        • Baggins Baggins says:

          Thank you. Previously I read so much about this case, and reviewed Mary’s detailed web pages again just now. What an icing on the cake, it was the same amc involved both times. On stilts in a fire hazard zone. Yeah, that’s reliable service you can believe in from an amc! What a great job this amc accomplished, pitting two of their own panel appraisers against each other in a sensationalized court event with national recognition. Who exactly was the lender?
          All this time later, just why bother and a better perspective is gained. The argument of race being the primary culprit in a system this extra ordinarily complex is simply too flimsy. People need to learn if you’re going to plan out a $400k renovation budget, you’d better know what you’re doing ahead of time without question. 2016 for $550k? One can look at this specific address, it is noted on Mary’s site. I looked zillow over all housing, looks really complex. The thought of being a well informed fsbo purchaser in that area, pretty bold. As the market starts to slide… People are going to wish they went for expensive housing. Fairness has nothing to do with it when it comes to federal reserves gross manipulation of our markets and monetary worth. It’s all coming back right now in real time, like a rubber band stretched too thin. What an absolute waste of manpower and reserves effort on this one, geesh. They’d have been better off saving for the rainy day soon to come, and they’re not the only one. Slide figures in my areas are lower by scale, but not too far off the percentage.

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  3. Well this is great news! What other claims? Are there still BIAS claims to determine on this same case? Talk about discrimination, the prior owners wanted a Black purchaser for their home (“someone of like race”) and sold it privately to the current owners. REALLY??? This fact needs to be spread far and wide. I sure hope any BIAS claims will be vacated as well.

    3
    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Most interesting. Is the open guard or achilies heel created by the amc allowing both these appraisals through? Sorry if you detailed this on your site already, but isn’t this something that the state regulatory board will be compelled to look into if someone complains? If the first appraisal is vindicated does that not also mean the second appraiser and the amc whom fielded both requests should be on the hook for investigations and possible licensing relinquishment? How could the lender allow this? Underwriting safeguards are supposed to prevent this sort of gross discrepancy.

      Give it a few months, zillow says this particular home lost a quarter million in market value in the last single month. Photo posted above. Thrift is back and if people can’t get their minds around it, they are risking everything. Nobody is insulated, the devaluing of our currency hits every person, at every economic level, everywhere. Post this again I suppose. It’s happening again, as predicted. This time around there are new incentives, new forms, new programs. But they have similar consequences and end results.

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  4. Avatar EJ says:

    I wonder how much it cost the appraiser for defense ?

    1
    • Avatar Donna Halfpenny says:

      And let us not forget the impact on the appraiser’s physical and mental health, as well the impact as their business.

      2
  5. Elizabeth Morse Rhodes on Facebook Elizabeth Morse Rhodes on Facebook says:

    So, the 2 appraisals were not reviewed and we don’t know which one was correct?

    5
  6. Avatar Will says:

    Looks to me that the Plaintiffs were actually committing Mortgage Fraud by manipulating the lender’s appraisal process all the while using “Race” as a cover.

    1
  7. Here is the rest of the information for the case. I’m a California appraiser. Based on my research the lower appraisal was correct. The higher appraisal used sales from an area farther away where homes sell for twice as much.
    https://mary–cummins.blogspot.com/2021/02/alleged-discrimination-home-appraisal.html

    7
  8. Avatar Scott says:

    If the market dumps, will we see a lawsuit against the second appraiser for overvaluation?

    1
  9. Avatar Mike says:

    These owners are opportunists, taking advantages from “off-market” deals. Then, concealed their identity with the only intent of getting a higher appraisal value. Then, sue to obtain compensation from the appraiser too. I dont see a hint of honesty here. Besides, I think both appraisers went to extreme value conclusions.

    1
  10. Avatar New Level says:

    First. I don’t see this as a win. I see this as temporary relief for the appraiser involved. When I say temporary, I mean that her business and life are still shattered by the allegations and lawsuit. The dismissal of the lawsuit while a temporary win for the appraiser involved didn’t address the main issue of the racial bias narrative and the main focus of the lawsuit which was racism and bias.

    The dismissal basically said that since you didn’t rely on that appraisal to obtain a loan, you weren’t really harmed. Your claim stated reliance but yet, you actually didn’t rely on it and therefore you were not injured. Again, it didn’t address anything else.

    This doesn’t change the narrative out there for the appraisal profession or the issue of bias or racism. The dismissal didn’t address any of the bias or racism issues or claims. Seems to me that the plaintiffs just had a very bad argument and possibly a bad attorney as well.

    So while a temporary win for the appraiser it’s still not a win because her business is shattered, her reputation is shattered and who knows what else. Is it a win for the profession? I don’t think so since it didn’t address the real reasons the lawsuit was filed.

    Until the reports are released and it’s proven without doubt that the appraiser was right, wrong or incompetent as well as the second appraiser, this really doesn’t mean much. They need to release all of these reports for this to stop happening and to get the real information out there.

    Of note from another source: this dismissal is for the 7th Claim of Relief; that of negligent misrepresentation only. A portion of the 1st Claim for Relief was previously dismissed in April. There are still 5 claims remaining with regard to the Fair Housing Act (Federal), the California equivalent of the federal FHA, and another California law known as the Unruh Act.

    So unless those are dismissed as well they can still go to court or settle on the main issues of discrimination and bias which is what this suit was about.

    2
    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Until we answer the question if an amc was involved, in appraisal A, and appraisal B. Because appraisers whom go along with these unnecessary amc fee sharing programs where their discount is basically a bribe to get ahead of more qualitifed appraisers, there are competency and honesty questions already present. The excess pressure of the amc industry is a constant drain on the appraisers resources and motivation, which brings alongside a rather consistent degradation in professionalism and reliability. Many of the amc industries practices would be considered illegal and recognized as defrauding consumers and labor pressure violations in many other business and industry sectors. Pay a gratuity fee with every order assignment, or you get no assignments. It’s organized exclusion from the marketplace for all appraisers whom demand ethical honest transparent practices.

      In response to other posters comments; it’s o.k. the taxpayer will foot the bill if and when the market slides. Nobody will go to jail and all those mortgage fraud investigations, they’re over now and nobody has an appetite to start them up so long as the plunge protection team keeps these excess market value positions floating along for another day. Lending origination can do no harm, which is why these activities are becoming exponentially more prevalent again today. They’ve got congress people writing legislation that will codify and normalize mortgage fraud based on race. What more do you need to know about the state of the industry?

      We’re glad the appraiser(s) skated by and such, luckily for them. By refusing to go public with all the information and by refusing to call out the opposing side in a similar manner, both sides lose. If first appraisal was correct, originators were derelict in their duty to pursue additional service and should be investigated for mortgage fraud and defrauding the borrowers, regardless if they changed lenders or not, that first appraisal should have been viewable in the FNMA CU or HUD systems. They should have known and if the borrower concealed the event, that’s an additional offense in itself where the borrower defrauded the lender. If the second appraisal was correct, first appraiser must have been derelict in their duty to either provide competent services, unbiased services, or both, and should be investigated and/or penalized, which still does not dismiss the alleged activity of the borrower using stand ins which is providing a fictitious identity and can be made an aggravated offense based on financial involvement.

      Someone deserves a fine but in the end the legal position was to sweep it all under the rug, as the borrowers were not harmed because they simply drove through to the next lender drive through and ordered another appraisal sandwich. These companies would not operate this way if they were not indemnified by the taxpayer from financially damaging and financially risky behavior, lending only their own money. Fractional reserve lending and all that rears it’s head again. In the end this is not much different than an rov or any of the thousand normally applied pressures lenders and their amc management companies heap on appraisers, it’s just due to some racial composition sensationalization, people were able to see behind the curtain of the mortgage industry, even if that was just for one loan. Take these loans at your own risk and don’t get too excited about high numbers, what comes next is a lifetime of responsibility and higher mortgage payments. Can anyone tell me exactly what is wrong with lower housing prices?

      Betcha a pepsi and pick your accusation…

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  11. Avatar Jim says:

    Did you notice this sentence in the story above? “the second appraiser was met for the inspection and informed about the cost of additions and renovations at approximately $400,000”

    Makes you wonder what else the appraiser was informed of. I think it’s quite possible that the AMC or the person that met the appraiser for the second inspection may have “let the cat out of the bag”. Why else would the second appraiser use comps from another city?

    0

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Appraiser Miller Wins

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