Beginner’s Guide to Commercial Appraisal Review Clients

commercial review clientsCommercial appraisal review assignments flow from different types of clients, each with their own intended use, required scope of work, and set of concerns for the reviewer to be aware of. This post is designed to provide practical advice for working with four specific types of commercial appraisal review clients. If you are new to commercial appraisal review, this information will be especially helpful.


Types of commercial appraisal review clients

Appraisal review clients might include:

  • Attorneys
  • Government clients (Federal agencies, State agencies, Municipalities)
  • Financial institutions
  • Private parties (Individuals, Corporations)

Review assignments for attorneys

Carrying out a review for an attorney client typically requires you to review an appraisal that has been performed for the “other side” of the litigation. In addition to reviewing an existing appraisal, these assignments sometimes entail performing a new appraisal for your client. Your written review report will likely be a reference point for the attorney(s) during cross-examination, and the scope of work might involve a deposition or court testimony.

The goal of any review assignment for an attorney is to find any loopholes or issues in the appraisal that the client can use to contest the conclusion (or some component parts) of the appraisal report. To accomplish this, the reviewer will be paying attention to the minutia of the report, drawing attention to things such as typos. This is one of the most detail-oriented types of review assignments, and typically the highest-paying work available.

Review assignments for government clients

Federal agencies will typically require the reviewer to determine if the report has been prepared in accordance with the Yellow Book. Consequently, most work for government clients requires the reviewer to have knowledge of and competency with Yellow Book regulations. Other government or federal agencies might ask the reviewer to examine a report’s compliance with a different set of regulations. Competency is always of the utmost importance.

Review work for state agencies typically pertains to eminent domain. In these cases, the reviewer must be competent with eminent domain appraisal practices and state laws on takings. Review work for a state taxing authority will require knowledge of state tax laws.

Review work for municipalities may come from local tax assessors, takings for local roadways, or audits of city-owned properties.

Review assignments for banks

Regardless of where they are located throughout the country, credit unions and banks of all sizes follow the same appraisal regulatory requirements, which are laid out in the Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines.

Completing a review assignment for any financial institution will require knowledge and understanding of these guidelines. In addition, there are federal laws and federal agency regulations (e.g., Dodd-Frank) that govern how financial institutions (and their reviewers) are able to interact with appraisers. Failure to comply with these regulations can legally impact the reviewer and the client, sometimes resulting in hefty fines.

Assignments for financial institutions require the reviewer to examine an appraisal for credibility and reliability pertaining to lending purposes. The client will want to know whether they can make lending decisions based on the appraisal and how much risk they will be exposing themselves to. Typos are less relevant in these assignments. This is the most prevalent type of review assignment, but also typically the lowest paying.

Special notes on review assignments for banks:

  • Both USPAP and the Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines are relevant for bank review, but they do not always agree.
  • Many small banks do not bid reviewers, but send all work to a single contract reviewer. If this is your situation, it would be wise to build relationships with 2-3 back-up reviewers for vacation or peak times.

Review assignments for private parties

Work for private parties might include:

  • Tax appeal work—for the taxpayer or for a tax appeal firm
  • Divorce proceedings
  • Company mergers
  • Insurance companies
  • Pension funds
  • Wall Street firms
  • Review work for individuals

Reviews for private parties are the least clear-cut assignments you will come across. Use your engagement letter to clarify the scope of work and consider getting your fee upfront if the client is relatively small or unknown.

No matter what type of commercial appraisal review assignment you’re tackling, be sure to consider the type of client you’re dealing with. Being able to anticipate each specific client’s probable concerns, intended use, and required scope of work will help make you a more efficient and effective reviewer.

For related information, check out McKissock’s continuing education courses: Appraisal of Owner-Occupied Commercial Properties and Residential Appraisal Review and USPAP Compliance.


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