Help with Unethical Behavior by Appraiser

10 Replies

Possible ethical misconduct:

I listed a house for my spouse and his brother that was an estate. I sold the house to a close friend who is an investor. He also purchased all of the contents for an estate sale outside of closing and had no effect on the appraisal. However, the appraiser took photos of the inside with all contents which is fine and was expected. But it was brought to my attention and the buyer has proof that the appraiser shared those photos with a member of the public.

The appraiser informed his “friend” that the buyer would be selling the HAM radio equipment most likely, not a few hundred dollar’s worth of equipment but several thousand dollar’s worth. The house was vacant , my father in law recently passed away and that info was shared as well. Showing these photos to a private individual constitutes some type of ethical breach of conditionality, correct. Also, revealed details of contents could have lead this person to share info with someone else, would may have took the opportunity to break into the home.

Obviously, the buyer is extremely upset as well as my family because our personal business was shared with people that was not a party to the transaction, which should violate some code conduct.

My question is: can someone point me to a standard of conduct or ethical information that would explain the recourse or ramifications for this type of activity by this appraiser.

I’ve searched high and low, but I haven’t found anything.

I would have the buyer talk to their bank who hired the appraiser.  There should be documents that are signed stating who the information can be shared with.  Clearly, the person they shared it with is not one of them.

The first question you should ask yourself is what are you trying to get out of this. Was he wrong? Definitely. But is it also possible that he was trying to find a buyer for some things that he thought were going to get thrown out. Is there any evidence that he was planning a theft? I can see why you are annoyed, but the amount of time you will spend on trying to get this appraiser a light reprimand (which is all he would get because he will have an explanation like above) will not be worth it. Did you talk to the appraiser about it at all?

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Hi Lisa,

So move the HAM equipment to your basement and list it on Ebay...

Most old HAM equipment I don't think is very valuable in a pawn shop, and people will already know its in the original house from the HUGE antenna outside.

Plus a lot of that stuff has a serial number on it.

Good Luck!

Originally posted by @Theresa Harris:

I would have the buyer talk to their bank who hired the appraiser.  There should be documents that are signed stating who the information can be shared with.  Clearly, the person they shared it with is not one of them.

Lender is aware and has sent it to corporate because the buyer is a very established investors with a multi-million portfolio, so they do what they can to keep him happy.  They bank (local) refunded him all of the appraisal fees for the year charged by this appraiser, roughly 1500.00.

My lender is livid, so I'm trying to smooth the waters out and the only thing that will smooth the waters for him is to have him removed from their approved appraiser list with this institution.  I've been asked by the VP of Commercial lending to draft a letter to present to the board regarding the issue as I was a party to the transaction and a customer of the bank.

The buyer was guaranteed by the lender that this appraiser is not to appraise any additional purchases on my clients transactions.

I'm just looking for some type to legal, privacy information that may help determine if there was any wrong doing.

Originally posted by @Jonathan Greene:

The first question you should ask yourself is what are you trying to get out of this. Was he wrong? Definitely. But is it also possible that he was trying to find a buyer for some things that he thought were going to get thrown out. Is there any evidence that he was planning a theft? I can see why you are annoyed, but the amount of time you will spend on trying to get this appraiser a light reprimand (which is all he would get because he will have an explanation like above) will not be worth it. Did you talk to the appraiser about it at all?

I have not approached him about it because his response will likely be he can't discuss the issue with me, as a co-seller, he works for the bank so I need to speak with him.....which I am pursuing. 

All of the appraisers know each other. I don't think you are considering the blowback you and your client could get by not handling this privately. Do you have any evidence whatsoever that his intentions were nefarious? What if he thought it was going to be thrown out and was trying to let a HAM enthusiast know that there is equipment available for sale? What makes you believe someone was going to steal it? Reporting him is one thing, but threatening legal action and trying to get him barred from the approved appraiser list without any evidence beyond a photo shared is only going to come back to hurt you in the end.

@Lisa Kester I've been a licensed ham radio operator since 1980 (Call sign KS1C if anybody cares). 

Ham equipment can vary wildly in value. 

I've seen transceivers in working condition sell anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand.  The driving factors are scarcity, condition and the make/model.

You don't say where you're from, but if you can find one of the decedent's trusted ham buddies, they'll likely help you to sell it at fair pricing.  Maybe look through the guest book from the funeral home and see if anybody signed with a call sign after there name.  Something like "John Doe, W1ABC".

See if you can track one of those down and ask for help finding someone who can help you sell.  And I strongly recommend AGAINST going to a pawn shop, unless you're willing to trade off money for convenience.

eBay can be a good guide to pricing, but be sure to look only at sold items, not current listings. Like homes on MLS, the asking price might be a pipe dream.

Be sure to look at items besides radios too - TNCs (radio modems), power supplies, antennas, rotators, towers, boxes of tubes - especially those the size of a tennis ball or larger - those can be expensive high-power tubes, which we still use in linear (power) amplifiers.  They can sell for over $1,000 each.  Smaller tubes might sell for $1.00 - $5.00.

As far as ethics, look at http://www.appraisers.org/docs...https://www.nar.realtor/about-...https://www.appraisalinstitute... and http://narea-assoc.org/ethics....  See if you find anything helpful in there.

Good luck!  

An appraiser is not a fiduciary and owes no oath of confidentiality to a buyer or seller.  Neither the buyer or seller are the employers of the appraiser, nor do they own the report or the contents or the pictures that were taken.

Merely sounds like people getting upset and enraged just to be upset and enraged, which seems all too common these days.

@Lisa Kester Maybe it was wrong of him to do such a thing but I don't believe it was illegal. The best way to check would be to call the state licensing board and ask. If they do find it guilty then they will likely just give him a small fine and make him take a class so there really is no benefit to you still. I think getting kicked off a lender's approved appraiser list with an explanation as to why is enough to make him think twice in the future. After all, getting kicked off an approved appraiser list can really hurt their business if they're just a 1 man appraisal shop.