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THE ETHICS OF APPRAISING

Many people I talk to ask about the ethics of appraising.

This aspect is fundamental and the foundation of everything else we do. Please take a minute and review the following Ethics Rule of the Uniform Standards of Professional Practice.

These rules were developed by the Appraisal Foundation which serves the nation in appraisal guidelines.

ETHICS RULE

To promote and preserve the public trust inherent in professional appraisal practice, an appraiser must observe the highest standards of professional ethics. This ETHICS RULE is divided into four sections: Conduct, Management, Confidentiality, and Record Keeping. The first three sections apply to all appraisal practice, and all four sections apply to appraisal practice performed under Standards 1 through 10.

Comment This rule specifies the personal obligations and responsibilities of the individual appraiser. However, it should also be noted that groups and organizations engaged in appraisal practice share the same ethical obligations.

Compliance with these standards is required when either the service or the appraiser is obligated by law or regulation, or by agreement with the client or intended users, to comply. Compliance is also required when an individual, by choice, represents that he or she is performing the service as an appraiser.

An appraiser must not misrepresent his or her role when providing valuation services that are outside of appraisal practice. 1

Comment: Honesty, impartiality, and professional competency are required of all appraisers under these Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). To document recognition and acceptance of his or her USPAP-related responsibilities in communicating an appraisal, appraisal review, or appraisal consulting assignment completed under USPAP, an appraiser is required to certify compliance with these Standards. (See Standards Rules 2-3, 3-3, 5-3, 6-8, 8-3, and 10-3.)

Conduct

An appraiser must perform assignments ethically and competently, in accordance with USPAP and any supplemental standards agreed to by the appraiser in accepting the assignment. An appraiser must not engage in criminal conduct. An appraiser must perform assignments with impartiality, objectivity, and independence, and without accommodation of personal interests.

In appraisal practice, an appraiser must not perform as an advocate for any party or issue.

Comment: An appraiser may be an advocate only in support of his or her assignment results. Advocacy in any other form in appraisal practice is a violation of the ETHICS RULE.

An appraiser must not accept an assignment that includes the reporting of predetermined opinions and conclusions.

An appraiser must not communicate assignment results in a misleading or fraudulent manner. An appraiser must not use or communicate a misleading or fraudulent report or knowingly permit an employee or other person to communicate a misleading or fraudulent report. 2

An appraiser must not use or rely on unsupported conclusions relating to characteristics such as race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, familial status, age, receipt of public assistance income, handicap, or an unsupported conclusion that homogeneity of such characteristics is necessary to maximize value.

Comment: An individual appraiser employed by a group or organization that conducts itself in a manner that does not conform to these standards should take steps that are appropriate under the circumstances to ensure compliance with the standards.

Management

The payment of undisclosed fees, commissions, or things of value in connection with the procurement of an assignment is unethical.

Comment: Disclosure of fees, commissions, or things of value connected to the procurement of an assignment must appear in the certification of the written report and in any transmittal letter in which conclusions are stated. In groups or organizations engaged in appraisal practice, intra-company11:25 AM 01/09/2001payments to employees for business development are considered to be ethical. Competency, rather than financial incentives, should be the primary basis for awarding an assignment.

It is unethical for an appraiser to accept compensation for performing an assignment when the assignment results are contingent upon:

  1. the reporting of a predetermined result (e.g., opinion of value);
  2. a direction in assignment results that favors the cause of the client;
  3. the amount of a value opinion;
  4. the attainment of a stipulated result; or
  5. the occurrence of a subsequent event directly related to the appraiser’s opinions and specific to the assignment’s purpose.

Advertising for or soliciting assignments in a manner that is false, misleading, or exaggerated is unethical.

Comment: In groups or organizations engaged in appraisal practice, decisions concerning finder or referral fees, contingent compensation, and advertising may not be the responsibility of an individual appraiser, but for a particular assignment, it is the responsibility of the individual appraiser to ascertain that there has been no breach of ethics, that the assignment is prepared in accordance with these Standards, and that the report can be properly certified when required by Standards Rules 2-3, 3-2, 5-3, 6-8, 8-3, or 10-3.

Confidentiality 3

An appraiser must protect the confidential nature of the appraiser-client relationship.

An appraiser must act in good faith with regard to the legitimate interests of the client in the use of confidential information and in the communication of assignment results.

An appraiser must not disclose confidential information or assignment results prepared for a client to anyone other than the client and persons specifically authorized by the client; state enforcement agencies and such third parties as may be authorized by due process of law; and a duly authorized professional peer review committee. It is unethical for a member of a duly authorized professional peer review committee to disclose confidential information presented to the committee.

Comment: When all confidential elements of confidential information are removed through redaction or the process of aggregation, client authorization is not required for the disclosure of the remaining information, as modified.

Record Keeping

An appraiser must prepare a workfile for each appraisal, appraisal review, or appraisal consulting assignment. The workfile must include the name of the client and the identity, by name or type, of any other intended users; true copies of any written reports, documented on any type of media; summaries of any oral reports or testimony, or a transcript of testimony, including the appraiser’s signed and dated certification; and all other data, information, and documentation necessary to support the appraiser’s opinions and conclusions and to show compliance with this rule and all other applicable Standards, or references to the location(s) of such other documentation.

An appraiser must retain the workfile for a period of at least five (5) years after preparation or at least two (2) years after final disposition of any judicial proceeding in which testimony was given, whichever period expires last, and have custody of his or her workfile, or make appropriate workfile retention, access, and retrieval arrangements with the party having custody of the workfile.

Comment: A workfile preserves evidence of the appraiser’s consideration of all applicable data and statements required by USPAP and other information as may be required to support the appraiser’s opinions, conclusions, and recommendations. For example, the content of a workfile for a Complete Appraisal must reflect consideration of all USPAP requirements applicable to the specific Complete Appraisal assignment. However, the content of a workfile for a Limited Appraisal need only reflect consideration of the USPAP requirements from which there have been no departure and that are required by the specific Limited Appraisal assignment.

A photocopy or an electronic copy of the entire actual written appraisal, appraisal review, or consulting report sent or delivered to a client satisfies the requirement of a true copy. As an example, a photocopy or electronic copy of the Self-Contained Appraisal Report, Summary Appraisal Report, or Restricted Use Appraisal Report actually issued by an appraiser for a real property Complete Appraisal or Limited Appraisal assignment satisfies the true copy requirement for that assignment.

Care should be exercised in the selection of the form, style, and type of medium for written records, which may be handwritten and informal, to ensure that they are retrievable by the appraiser throughout the prescribed record retention period.

A workfile must be in existence prior to and contemporaneous with the issuance of a written or oral report. A written summary of an oral report must be added to the workfile within a reasonable time after the issuance of the oral report.

A workfile must be made available by the appraiser when required by state enforcement agencies or due process of law. In addition, a workfile in support of a Restricted Use Appraisal Report must be available for inspection by the client in accordance with the Comment to Standards Rules 2-2(c)(ix), 8-2(c)(ix), and 10-2(b)(ix).

1 See Advisory Opinion AO-21 on page 179.

2 See Advisory Opinion AO-5 on page 122.

References to Advisory Opinions are for guidance only and do not incorporate Advisory Opinions into the Standards Rules.

3 See Statement on Appraisal Standards No. 5 on page 80.

*Privacy Notice: Due to the passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bililey Act in November 1999, numerous regulatory agencies (e.g., OTS, OCC, FDIC, FTC, FRB) have new privacy regulations. These regulations, as well as others, may supersede the minimum requirements put forth in the 2001 USPAP.

 

COMPETENCY RULE

Prior to accepting an assignment or entering into an agreement to perform any assignment, an appraiser must properly identify the problem to be addressed and have the knowledge and experience to complete the assignment competently; or alternatively, must:

  1. disclose the lack of knowledge and/or experience to the client before accepting the assignment;
  2. take all steps necessary or appropriate to complete the assignment competently; and
  3. describe the lack of knowledge and/or experience and the steps taken to complete the assignment competently in the report.

Comment: Competency applies to factors such as, but not limited to, an appraiser’s familiarity with a specific type of property, a market, a geographic area, or an analytical method. If such a factor is necessary for an appraiser to develop credible assignment results, the appraiser is responsible for having the competency to address that factor or for following the steps outlined above to satisfy this COMPETENCY RULE.

The background and experience of appraisers varies widely, and a lack of knowledge or experience can lead to inaccurate or inappropriate appraisal practice. The COMPETENCY RULE requires an appraiser to have both the knowledge and the experience required to perform a specific appraisal service competently.

If an appraiser is offered the opportunity to perform an appraisal service but lacks the necessary knowledge or experience to complete it competently, the appraiser must disclose his or her lack of knowledge or experience to the client before accepting the assignment and then take the necessary or appropriate steps to complete the appraisal service competently. This may be accomplished in various ways, including, but not limited to, personal study by the appraiser, association with an appraiser reasonably believed to have the necessary knowledge or experience, or retention of others who possess the required knowledge or experience.

In an assignment where geographic competency is necessary, an appraiser preparing an appraisal in an unfamiliar location must spend sufficient time to understand the nuances of the local market and the supply and demand factors relating to the specific property type and the location involved. Such understanding will not be imparted solely from a consideration of specific data such as demographics, costs, sales, and rentals. The necessary understanding of local market conditions provides the bridge between a sale and a comparable sale or a rental and a comparable rental. If an appraiser is not in a position to spend the necessary amount of time in a market area to obtain this understanding, affiliation with a qualified local appraiser may be the appropriate response to ensure development of credible assignment results.

Although this rule requires an appraiser to identify the problem and disclose any deficiency in competence prior to accepting an assignment, facts or conditions uncovered during the course of an assignment could cause an appraiser to discover that he or she lacks the required knowledge or experience to complete the assignment competently. At the point of such discovery, the appraiser is obligated to notify the client and comply with items 2 and 3 of the rule.

 

Palo Verde Appraisals, Inc.
Katherine Guidry, President
P.O. Box 4730, Los Alamos, NM 87544
Office: (505) 662-3777 Fax: (505) 662-3777
Email: PaloVerdeApp@aol.com

http://www.PaloVerdeAppraisals.com

Copyright © 2005 Palo Verde Appraisals