We are receiving many calls from our insured appraisers about AMC agreements. Many of our calls in the last fews days have concerned the TSI Appraisal Services Appraiser Agreement. This agreement is worth looking at because, though more extreme than others in its one-sided wording, it illustrates the typical legal problems for appraisers found in AMC agreements.With regard to the TSI agreement, appraisers are particularly concerned about the indemnity section. Indemnity provisions are a recurring issue with AMC agreements. The bottom line is they are usually an AMC's attempt to shift potential liability by contract from the AMC to the appraiser. Because of the current mortgage crisis, this attempted shifting of liability is occurring more than ever.
The first paragraph of section 7 requires, in part, that the appraiser "indemnify, defend, save and hold harmless [TSI] from and against any and all liability, claims, damages, penalties, losses, fines, judgments . . . [and] any other costs, fees and expenses . . . in any way related to . . . [among other things] any appraisal report submitted to [TSI] by Appraiser pursuant to this Agreement." Simply construed, this means the appraiser is promising to pay TSI for any cost or loss of any kind (including criminal or civil fines ordered against TSI) for anything related to an appraisal submitted by that appraiser. This is an unusually broad indemnity provision because TSI could conceivably take the position that the appraiser is required to indemnify TSI for losses caused by TSI itself in handling an appraisal or resulting from TSI's own negligence. For example, if TSI conveyed erroneous instructions to the appraiser which resulted in a problem with the appraisal and the lender client demanded that TSI make up a resulting loss, TSI could conceivably demand that the appraiser pay TSI for TSI's own mistake.
Another significant issue is raised in the second paragraph of section 7. In this part, the appraiser "agrees that if a mortgage lender is required to repurchase a mortgage loan for any reason in any way related to [among other things] . . . any appraisal report submitted by Appraiser pursuant to this Agreement, Appraiser shall pay [TSI] an amount equal to the repurchase price paid by such mortgage lender to repurchase such mortgage loan." The appraiser is further required to "pay the reasonable attorney’s fees of [TSI] incurred in enforcing Appraiser’s obligations hereunder, including, with [sic] limitation, the obligation of Appraiser to pay [TSI] an amount equal to the repurchase price of a mortgage loan as set forth above."