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real estate appraiser lender owner value pressure

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Should I Complete this Assignment?

Q: " I have a problem with an assignment and I am not sure what to do. A good lender/client contacted my office last week about an assignment and asked how long it would take me to complete a report. I am one of a handful of appraisers in a rural area, I am very busy, and, sometimes, the winter weather is a real impediment. I told them I could not complete the report in less than 30 days, and they said that was fine. My engagement letter says the report must be uploaded by a specific date. Another inspection I was going to do got cancelled, so I called this property owner and made an appointment to inspect this week because I was going to be close by the property while on my way to do another inspection. Everything went fine until I was just about to leave. The homeowner said something to me about having the report by next Monday. I didn’t want to get into anything with her so I said I wasn’t sure what due date the lender had asked for and that I would have to check my file when I got back to my office.

This lady went berserk on me. She started yelling about this process being delayed several times and that she can’t afford to wait any longer and if I don’t have my report “in her hands” by Monday she will be suing everyone. Then she started in on how the “other appraisers” all came in too low and if my report is not “at least $350,000," she is going to be suing everyone.

I tried to be polite and said I would call the lender as soon as I got back to my office to try to clarify things and I got out of there as fast as I could. My assistant said this property owner already has called my office to leave several messages saying she wants to hear back from me confirming that I will get the report to her by Monday. This lender is a good client but I really do not want to complete this assignment. I don’t know what “delays” have already happened and I know nothing about any prior appraisals. According to my contract with the client, I still have almost 3 weeks to complete the report but this lady expects something by Monday. How can I get out of this mess and not risk losing the client?

A: I understand your concern here. Who knows what has already happened with this loan? I really do not want you to become the scapegoat here. I think you would be justified in explaining to the client that you cannot complete the assignment because the borrower made it clear to you that she is expecting a certain value. The lender might be able to contact this woman and explain to her that you will not be able to complete the report by Monday...but it seems like that is only one of her demands. She made it clear to you that she is expecting a certain value. How can you prepare an unbiased appraisal when you know this expectation exists? She made it pretty clear she will not accept a lower value, no matter how supported your opinion might be.

Please understand that even if you do not complete the report, you might still find yourself the victim of her wrath. We have had claims made against insured appraisers because they refused to complete an assignment. Depending on what has already taken place, if you walk away, this property owner could blame you for causing further delays. We will deal with that if it happens. For now, you need to call your client, immediately, to explain why you cannot complete this assignment, and please follow up your conversation with written confirmation. Keep me posted.

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Would you like Claudia to manage your liability concerns?