Worried, confused appraiser reviews appraisal board complaint, gets bad news in the mail

How to Avoid and Respond to Appraisal Board Complaints


Disciplinary complaints against appraisers are becoming more and more common. From accusations of bias or discrimination to failure to disclose significant real property appraisal assistance, it can be really alarming if a licensing board reaches out and notifies you of a complaint. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself against becoming the subject of a lawsuit or disciplinary action. Here, we answer frequently asked questions about how to prevent and respond to appraisal board complaints.

What should you do and not do in the first 24-48 hours after receiving a complaint?

Stop. Take a breath. You don’t want to do anything rash or respond out of anger, as this will likely make things more difficult down the line. Sometimes what you do in that first 24-48 hours will set the tone for the entire rest of the process. You certainly don’t want to ignore the complaint. However, take a breath, process what’s going on, and start getting your ducks in a row and assembling your team. Do notify your E&O insurance carrier right away. Don’t call up your state board before you’ve taken the time to put together a rational and strategic response.

What should you consider when responding to the state board?

Be very strategic about what you put in writing and what you say to the board. Consider getting an attorney in your corner, but don’t hire just any lawyer. Make sure you hire competent counsel. You can ask your E&O insurance carrier or your professional associations to refer you to an attorney who’s familiar with the appraisal complaint process.

Free Guide: Time to renew or upgrade your appraisal license? Get helpful info in our free Appraisal License Upgrade Guide.

During the complaint process, can you continue to work?

In most situations, you can continue working through the entire complaint process while it is ongoing. However, it depends on your state. Most states do not have summary suspension as part of their procedure, but there are some that do.

How can you prevent appraisal board complaints?

Strengthen your workfile, and strengthen the language in your report. These two things can help you avoid getting appraisal board complaints in the first place, as well as strengthen your ability to respond to any complaints that may come in.

The importance of keeping a good, robust workfile in real time cannot be overstated. Keep in mind that you might get a complaint about an appraisal assignment you completed years ago. If you’re stuck a few years later trying to replicate what you did back then and explain it away, then you’re going to have a much harder time.

As far as the language you use, make sure the language in the report matches exactly what you did and didn’t do as part of your scope of work for that particular assignment.

Careful assignment selection is another thing that can help you avoid complaints. Carefully evaluate each assignment and consider whether you should take it per the USPAP COMPETENCY RULE. Avoid biting off more than you can chew by accepting a complex assignment that you don’t really have the competency to complete, or one that you don’t have enough time to perform thoroughly.

What are some common types of appraisal board complaints?

Accusations of appraisal bias and discrimination are becoming more common these days. In addition, some common violations that may lead to complaints include:

  • Use of inappropriate sales in the sales comparison approach
  • Use of unsupported site value in the cost approach
  • Failure to analyze the sales history of the subject property
  • Failure to analyze the current pending purchase agreement
  • Failure to disclose significant real property appraisal assistance

For a more in-depth discussion on how to avoid and deal with appraisal board complaints, watch the recorded webinar, “Appraisal Board Complaints and What Every Appraiser Should Know,” featuring expert speakers Craig Capilla and Mel Black—exclusively available to McKissock Unlimited Learning Members.