Welcome to the Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers of the State of California

Frequently Asked Questions - EnforcementFrequently Asked Questions - Enforcement

Questions

Answers

Question: What is the function of BREA's Enforcement Unit?

Answer: BREA investigates the background of applicants and licensees with convictions for criminal violations of law or who have engaged in other conduct that calls into question their fitness for licensure. BREA also investigates complaints of unlawful or unethical activities filed against licensed appraisers, educational course providers and persons acting in a capacity that requires a license.

Please note that BREA cannot act as a court of law, order the refund of monies, award damages, enforce contractual agreements or give legal advice. If any of these are your goal, you may wish to contact an attorney or your local Better Business Bureau.

Question: When do I file a complaint?

Answer: A complaint may be filed any time you have a legitimate complaint against a licensed appraiser. Complaints should be filed as soon as possible after the event.

Question: How do I file a complaint?

Answer: You may obtain a complaint form by visiting the Forms page on this website, or by contacting BREA at the numbers listed below. Then simply complete the form and send it, along with all relevant documents, to BREA, Enforcement Unit, 1102 Q St., Suite 4100, Sacramento, CA 95811.

Question: Who typically files complaints?

Answer: Approximately 20% of all complaints are filed by a borrower/homeowner. Another 45% percent come from Regulators or Lenders, including Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Thrift Supervision, Office of Comptroller of Currency, mortgage brokers, loan officers and review appraisers for banks. Appraisers file approximately 20% of the complaints and the remaining 15% fall into the "Other" category.

The following table highlights some of the most frequent allegations found in complaints filed with BREA paired with the typical source for each category:

Type of Appraisal Common Allegations by Category of Complainant
Single Family Residential

Complaints filed by Borrowers/Homeowners

  • Property description errors
  • Errors in Comparable Sales Information
  • Errors in valuation
  • Payment disputes
  • Non-delivery of pre-paid appraisal
  • Obnoxious behavior/rudeness
Narrative Reports

Complaints filed by Regulators, Lenders and other Appraisers

  • Highest and Best Use
  • Discounted Cash Flow Analysis
  • Failure to properly analyze bonds or market demand
  • Incompetence
  • Inappropriate comparable selection
  • Fraud
  • No support for adjustments
  • Failure to include license number with signature
Single Family Residential

Complaints filed by Mortgage Brokers

  • Untimely delivery or non delivery of report
  • Unwillingness to correct errors in report
  • Altered license
  • Failure to provide operating income statement
  • Failure to return phone calls

Complaints filed by other Appraisers

  • Failure to recognize professional assistance by others
  • Signing reports without reviewing them
  • Competency
  • Over valuation
  • Fraud
Other Issues

Complaints from various sources

  • Misrepresentation of Errors & Omissions Insurance
  • Litigation
  • Monetary disputes

 

Question: How are complaint investigations conducted?

Answer: BREA's Investigators include experienced, licensed appraisers. Interviews are conducted to gather information and clarify the complaint. If it appears the allegations may be true, the appraiser against whom the complaint was filed is contacted to provide an opportunity to respond. Desk and field reviews of appraisals are conducted whenever necessary to properly resolve the issues.

Question: What is BREA's complaint process?

Answer: Once a complaint is received, BREA will send you an acknowledgement letter. The Enforcement Unit will then review the complaint, the seriousness of the allegations and the potential harm to the public. The complaint will then be prioritized and assigned to an investigator.

The appraiser in question may be contacted for additional information and/or invited to attend an Office conference to explain his or her actions. BREA will then review all available information, determine if a violation has occurred and impose disciplinary sanctions, where appropriate.

If the appraiser wishes to contest BREA's determination or sanctions, a hearing will be held before an Administrative Law Judge of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). If necessary, you may be subpoenaed to testify at this hearing.

Question: How long will it take to resolve my complaint?

Answer: BREA will make every effort to resolve your complaint as quickly as possible. Many factors impact the length of an investigation, including: the complexity of the case, the availability and cooperation of witnesses and whether or not a field review of the property is necessary.

Since BREA must investigate complaints in order of their priority based on the seriousness of the allegations, likelihood of continuing harm to the public and other factors, it is not possible to estimate how long it will take to resolve your complaint. For this reason, BREA encourages you not to wait for the resolution of your complaint before seeking legal advice or pursuing other appropriate remedies.

Question: Will the appraiser be told who filed the complaint?

Answer: BREA will make every effort to keep your identify confidential. However, BREA cannot guarantee your anonymity and will probably be required to reveal your identity if the matter is filed with OAH.

Question: What can I do to avoid having a complaint filed against me?

Answer: In addition to knowing and abiding by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, a competent appraiser can protect himself or herself from complaints by avoiding misunderstandings and ensuring open, honest communication with the client and property owner. Appraisers should also consider:

  • Using a written contract which contains all terms, including the delivery date, appraisal fee, appraisal assignment clearly defined, and the property to be appraised.
  • If an appraisal assignment is curtailed prior to completion at the client's request, request or provide the client with a written statement that clearly states the reason for termination, the fee that was earned for appraisal services performed prior to terminating the assignment and any other conditions (i.e., no report is required for partial payment, the original assignment will be completed for the balance of the fee if it is requested within a certain period of time with specified notice).
  • If the client is a lender/mortgage broker, ensure the property owner understands that the lender/mortgage broker is responsible for providing a copy of the appraisal, not the appraiser. If you wish to provide a copy to the homeowner, do not tell the him/her you will do so unless (1) you obtain prior approval from your client (preferably in writing), and (2) you follow through with your promise in a timely manner.
  • Before starting an appraisal assignment, clarify with the property owner who is responsible for payment of the appraisal fee and when the payment is due, and obtain or provide it in writing, if possible.
  • Deliver appraisals in a timely manner.
  • If, upon inspection of the subject, you discover the appraisal assignment is not as negotiated in your contract, notify your client immediately and re negotiate the contract if appropriate and/or necessary.
  • Respond to telephone calls promptly.
  • Always be courteous and polite.

 

Question: How will I know the result of my complaint?

Answer: Once the case is concluded, BREA will notify you of the outcome of your complaint.

For additional information, contact BREA at:

Telephone (916) 552-9000
FAX (916) 552-9008

or write:

Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers
Enforcement Unit
1102 Q St., Suite 4100
Sacramento, CA 95811

 

Question: May a licensee voluntarily "suspend" his or her license to perform non-Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) appraisals?

Answer: BREA sometimes receives requests from licensees wishing to suspend or terminate their licenses. The most common reasons include the desire to produce non-USPAP appraisals for real estate brokers or for tax appeal purposes. There is currently no provision for permitting such a suspension of licensure prior to the license expiration.

BREA's regulations (California Code of Regulations Title 10, Chapter 6.5) require every holder of an BREA license to conform to and observe USPAP at all times. Major modifications to USPAP in recent years permit and guide the appraiser in the performance of limited appraisals and consulting assignments. Please refer to USPAP for guidance.

Question: Can a California licensed appraiser perform research for an appraisal of a property in another state, then write the report in California as a California licensee?

Answer: Unless otherwise permitted by the state in which the property is located, an appraiser licensed in California cannot complete an appraisal of a property in another state unless they are in that state. The appraiser should contact the licensing agency in that state (you may visit www.asc.gov for contact information for all states) for specific information regarding temporary permit procedures.