Have an Attorney Handle a State Board Complaint photo? Q&A for real estate appraiser

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Have an Attorney Handle a State Board Complaint?

Q: Someone told me that if I receive a complaint from the licensing board in this state, it’s best to have an attorney send my response. They said a response on a law firm’s letterhead increases the chances of a quick dismissal. If you try to handle it yourself, you should expect a longer investigation with many questions and meetings, and potentially more discipline such as fines, administrative costs, and classes. What do you think?

A: I wonder if the person who told you that happened to be an attorney? I reviewed the last three complaints against insureds in your state. All were handled by the appraisers without an attorney’s assistance. Two were quickly dismissed within six months, and the third received a Letter of Caution before being dismissed.

The decision about whether to retain counsel, and when, is up to the appraiser. You should not retain counsel because you think it will somehow “intimidate” or “impress” the investigator. Neither is true.

It’s important to carefully consider whether to retain counsel when responding to a licensing board complaint. Many states require appraisers to respond to specific allegations in the complaint. As the appraiser, you are the best person to answer questions about your actions and decisions. It’s important to take an active role in defending your license.

However, if you’re unable to devote the necessary time and attention to a licensing board complaint, it may be best to retain someone to handle it for you. Complaints can be frustrating and anger-inducing, but they must be taken seriously. It’s important to provide thorough and respectful answers to any questions asked. For example, if asked to explain the steps taken to research and select comparable sales, a response like “I chose the best sales available” is not acceptable.

Some appraisers may feel devastated upon receiving a complaint and fear suspension or revocation of their license. They may also worry about losing their insurance. This panic can be difficult to manage, especially if the appraiser is facing a health or personal crisis. In these cases, we urge appraisers to retain counsel for assistance. Counsel provides a buffer between the appraiser and the licensing board and can explain the process, provide guidance, and answer questions. Having counsel can help appraisers navigate through a difficult time in their lives.

Would you like Claudia to manage your liability concerns?