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concept image of a conflict of interest and professional integrity in divorce home appraisal

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Conflicting Assignments and Professional Ethics

Q: "Last year, I conducted an appraisal for the wife in a divorce case. Rumors reached me that she wasn't satisfied with my valuation. Although she settled the bill and never reached out about the report, I later learned at a USPAP class from another appraiser I know that her attorney hired another appraiser, supposedly yielding a $40,000 higher value. I got a call yesterday from the husband's attorney to appraise the same house. Considering the wife's engagement with another appraiser, I hesitated, questioning the potential conflict. Should I decline?"

A: Right. Remember that you never heard from the wife or her attorney about hiring another appraiser or their plan to not use your report. It’s a little late now, but remember it is crucial not to discuss assignments with anyone other than your client. The husband's attorney might not even be aware of your previous appraisal for the wife. If the wife has hired another appraiser, and if they were willing to give you some kind of waiver, you still could be put in an awkward position of having to comment on the prior report that you prepared for her.

It could get messy and it would be wise if you declined. Please remember also that discussing your assignments with other appraisers is never a good idea. You never know if your conversation might get passed along to a client or former client and later become the basis of some kind of ethics complaint.

Would you like Claudia to manage your liability concerns?