Friday, February 25, 2011

Harold Huggins Realty, et al v. FNC, Inc. - Going to Trial - UPDATED

Scroll for UPDATE

Although Appraiser Active has not posted about this, we have been following the case for a while. A quick synopsis is provided on the Valuation Review blog.

In Harold H. Huggins Realt, Inc., P.E. Turner & Company, LTD., Residential Appraisal and Consulting, Inc. and Alfonoso V. Torres doing business as Front Door Appraisals vs. FNC, Inc., a trio of appraisers filed a federal class action lawsuit against the technology firm seeking damages for negligent misrepresentation, misappropriation, breach of implied contract and other charges.
A copy of the complaint against FNC, Inc. and their AppraisalPort service was posted over on WorkingRE way back when.

As with any complex litigation, particularly a class action suit, the clock and calendar have gone around several times while parties make and argue motions, and the defendant seeks to have the action dismissed. The latest action was the plaintiff's appeal of the district court’s order granting the defendant's (FNC, Inc.)  motion to dismiss the case under Federal rule of Civil Procedure 12 (b)(6). (NOTE: I will not even pretend to know what that means.)

An audio of the oral argument before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans, Louisina) is available at this LINK. It takes a while to listen to the entire proceeding, but it's WORTH IT!

Yesterday, the Court of Appeals rendered their decision in favor of the plaintiffs. The Appeals Court reversed the decision to dismiss and remanded the case back for further proceedings.

Here is the Court of Appeals' decision:
FNC Case - Opinion 24Feb2011

UPDATE - March 30, 2011

The Letter of the Law page on has been updated with a synopsis of the case and an informative explanation of the decision.

A federal appellate court has considered whether to reinstate a possible class action lawsuit against a vendor that had allegedly promised its appraiser clients that information submitted through its system would be confidential but the vendor actually collected the information and offered it for resale.

Four real estate appraisal firms (collectively, “Appraisers”) brought a lawsuit against FNC, Inc. (“Company”). The lawsuit sought class action status for other similarly-situated appraisers and alleged that the Company had violated the Lanham Act (“Act”) by informing the Appraisers that their appraisals submitted through the Company’s AppraisalPort would be confidential when the Company was actually repackaging the data for resale.
Here is a link to the full article.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pick a Number - Take #2

On Valentine's Day, KCBS out of San Francisco, aired a story about homeowners with low appraisals, and how they are "fighting back". It's not a new story, nor is it a new argument. Appraiser Active has posted on the topic several times since the HVCC took hold back in 2009. HERE, HERE, and HERE. Folks in the brokerage community have documented plenty of sad tales and a number of stories have been written in newspapers and magazines.

Some of the claims appear to have merit; others are outrageous. The video at the link above  is included because we take issue with a couple of statements made by the "experts".

“An appraisal is just an opinion,” said Tara-Nicholle Nelson, consumer educator at
Sorry, Ms. Nelson, but I must disagree. An appraisal may be stated as "an opinion" but the opinion is stated in the appraisal report after research and analysis of relevant evidence, application of reason and logic, and development of the necessary approaches to value. An appraisal must be developed and reported in accordance with applicable standards, such as the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), and standards and guidelines required by client groups, government agencies, and individual clients.
Ms. Nelson also claims that “Appraisers are under regulation and under pressure to be much more conservative because they took so much pressure for inflating values at the top of the market,”
Appraiser Active has heard plenty of claims from appraisers about pressure from clients and some AMCs to be conservative, but must have missed the regulation that requires "conservative" opinions of value.

A real estate broker in the video makes the claim that 1 out of 7 deals is killed because of the appraisal. That may be her experience, but she goes on to whine about the buyer's reaction "when an appraisal doesn't come in at value".
Here's a clue for you, my dear: The negotiated sales price is not necessarily the value of the property. It may be an indication, and should certainly be considered in the development of the appraisal, but it's only one small bit of the mountain of data that will be collected, verified and analysed.

Take a look at their story, HERE, and make sure to read the comments.

Just had to get that off my chest.