In a refinance situation, does the homeowner get a copy of the appraisal?
I receive this question a lot. And I hear agents and other appraisers talking about it from time to time. Their conclusions, however, vary...
Just in case you're one of those people who hates reading blogs and just want to know the answer, I'll spare you the suspense: Yes! Yes, the homeowner is entitled to a copy of the appraisal.
Still, it can get tricky...
And in case you're one of those people who both hates reading blogs AND need an appraisal, skip on down to Appraisals Guaranteed and order one!
And just to clarify ... The homeowner receives the copy of the appraisal in a refinance of the existing loan. When it's a purchase, it's the home buyer who receives the appraisal.
The appraiser receives an assignment from a specific client. Often, that client is a bank who is in the process of providing a loan to the homeowner (or home buyer). So .... the client is the bank.
The appraiser conducts the appraisal following a series of steps outlined in the Universal Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice: USPAP.
You can purchase the 2012-2013 version of the USPAP book at the Appraisal Foundation (www.appraisalfoundation.org) for $60. I've never purchased one--they always just send it to me every other year. I think it's covered in part of my license fee, but honestly, I have no idea. You can also take a class (recommended if you really want to know about it) from the fine folks at the Appraisal Institute. They offer it online too... And to top it off, some clever person has made the book available online, for free, but in a clunky flash site here: http://www.uspap.org/#/1/ ...
OK, now, once again, back to the question: DOES THE HOMEOWNER GET A COPY OF THE APPRAISAL?
1) The bank is the appraiser's client.
2) The appraiser has obligations to his client under USPAP.
However, there's a number three ....
3) The state law...
I am not an attorney, and I can't tell you where it is in the code, but in Virginia, there was an appraiser who refused to provide a copy of his appraisal to the homeowner, citing USPAP. He said. "Look, I know you paid for the appraisal, and I know you are affected by the value opinion in the report, but I ain't sharin'! USPAP demands that I not share any of my information with anybody but my client! Go away--you're bothering me!"
Well, guess what? There's also a section of USPAP that says (and I'm paraphrasing): "When the applicable law in your area contradicts USPAP, go with the law."
USPAP is a set of guidelines and rules. The law is the law.
So, this appraiser was taken to court by the homeowner, and the judge said "hey, the homeowner paid for the appraisal--he gets a copy!" And that was that...
I can't imagine what kind of stubborn appraiser with no legal counsel would waste a day in court ... oh, wait, yes I can :-) .... but his case: The Great State of Virginia vs. Mr. Bonehead (really, you can look this up on Westlaw), illustrated the answer to the question in this blog.
So, how do I handle this question?
I try to remain true to USPAP, but at the end of the day, I'm following the law.
I simply ask the homeowner, "hey, can you ask the client for a copy of the report first? Send them an email specifically asking for the report."
Then I tell them to wait a reasonable amount of time. I kind of think "reasonable" means two days, but in the banking world it could be a couple of weeks. The homeowner rarely seems to be in a great hurry, and two days to two weeks is typically reasonable enough for them....
But, in the cases where the bank declines to send them one... (and why would they do that? Well, salespeople sometimes are great at sales but terrible at the follow-up and details) .... I ask the homeowner to forward me a copy of their request. I print it and stick it in my file, and I send them a copy of the report. And I copy the client just to let them know that I'm kind of annoyed that they aren't doing their job and that I do not care an iota that I have just violated USPAP (you know, because I have the law on my side and all that...) ....
And that's how it goes.
I should point out that 98.2% of the folks who ask their bank for the report just get it ... but if they don't, they are entitled to a copy of it from the appraiser.
So, to recap: Does the homeowner get a copy of the appraisal? Yes, yes he does? Is providing it against USPAP? Yes, yes, it is. Should you be ordering all your appraisals in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC from Appraisals Guaranteed? Yes, yes you should!