Ask Henry

USPAP Compliance: Confidentiality

Hi Henry,

I was sent an email by an attorney's office, stating that he is the attorney for one of my clients. He attached an affidavit and requested that I sign and notarize it. Basically, the affidavit is asking that I swear to the value of a report that I had done in the past. Additionally, he asked for a copy of my curriculum vitae.

I replied in an email that he is not my client and as a licensed real estate appraiser, I'm bound by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice; therefore, I can't discuss any aspects of the report with him. He then left a voice message stating he "didn't understand" my email and to please call him. This person is a real estate attorney and also handles corporate law. I'm sure he understood my email. I replied to him in an additional email that he is not my client and I can't discuss any aspects of the report with him. The scope of work on this report was market value and in the limiting conditions it states: "the appraiser is not responsible for matters of a legal nature."

By the way, my client has not contacted me regarding this issue. Do you have any advice on how I should proceed if my client contacts me about signing the affidavit? I appreciate your time and any advice you may have for me. Thanks!

Nola Beehler

Dear Nola,

The USPAP restricts you from having any dialogue about your appraisal report with anyone except the lender/client who is identified in the report (with a few specific exceptions). In my opinion this includes even acknowledging that such a report exists. I believe the only acceptable answer when asked about an appraisal is to tell whoever asks you that they should contact the lender/client named in the report for further information. If the lender/client wants you to amend the report to include an additional user, it is a change of the scope of work, which requires a new appraisal report. You can comply with such a request -- and charge for your additional time.

In general, whenever you add any information about an appraisal report either in writing or verbally, it becomes part of the report. I would limit any affidavit I signed -- only at the request of the lender/client -- to a statement that you made the report and that the report speaks for itself. When pressed further, I recommend that you refuse to do anything without the advice of an attorney representing your interests, and ask the requesting party agree to pay for the cost of the attorney. Whenever a lender/client asks for additional services you have to decide if charging an additional fee is good business practice. Excessive accommodation may lead to regular requests for "extras", but in the current climate, keeping a good client may require this.