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Are Home Appraisals Considered Confidential?

by Administrator on Apr 19, 2016 Appraisal Ethics 3571 Views

The simple answer to the question “are home appraisals confidential?” is yes but only parts of an appraisal report are considered to be confidential by appraisers.  The Uniform Standards of Profession Appraisal Practice (USPAP) via its Ethics Rule, that is adopted by most states as law, and federal regulations like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act require appraisers to keep some appraisal data confidential. 

It is important to understand that the information is confidential to the client, and that you may think you are the client but you may not be, not if the appraisal report was completed for a mortgage company or for a bank.  If the appraisal was completed for someone other than you then you may not even be voluntarily provided with a copy of it.

It’s also important to understand that the data collected on comparable sales, on the real property market and information that is “available from any other sources” are not confidential.  So if an appraiser releases information on your home that is publically available via a source like the local County Assessor’s office then that is not a violation of confidentiality.

USPAP goes out of its way to explain to appraisers that “an appraiser is able to share non-confidential information with other appraisers to facilitate higher-quality appraisals by allowing the exchange of this information.”  So appraisers can use the public data, the comparable sales and market information for their next assignment and they can reuse things like a market analysis if they come back to the same market area for another appraisal assignment.

Confidential information is information that is “classified as confidential or private by applicable law or regulation” or specifically “identified by the client as confidential when providing it to an appraiser” and as noted not publically available.  So there is in many situations relatively small portions of a report that are confidential.

The best way for a client to make sure that appraisal information is not shared with anyone is to tell the appraiser that the appraisal itself, or the “mere occurrence” of an assignment is to be kept confidential.  When a client advises an appraiser that the occurrence of the appraisal report is confidential it simply goes away since the appraiser cannot even acknowledge that the report was completed.  It “evaporates” for everyone but the client.

The Ethics Rule in USPAP notes that

“An appraiser must protect the confidential nature of the appraiser-client relationship.

An appraiser must act in good faith with regard to the legitimate interests of the client in the use confidential information and in the communication of assignment results.

An appraiser must be aware of, and comply with, all confidentiality and privacy laws and regulations applicable in an assignment.

An appraiser must not disclose: (1) confidential information; or (2) assignment results to anyone other than: • the client; • parties specifically authorized by the client; • state appraiser regulatory agencies; • third parties as may be authorized by due process of law; or • a duly authorized professional peer review committee except when such disclosure to a committee would violate applicable law or regulation.

An appraiser must take reasonable steps to safeguard access to confidential information and assignment results by unauthorized individuals, whether such information or results are in physical or electronic form.

An appraiser must ensure that employees, co-workers, sub-contractors, or others who may have access to confidential information or assignment results, are aware of the prohibitions on disclosure of such information or results.

A member of a duly authorized professional peer review committee must not disclose confidential information presented to the committee.” 

So it’s best for clients or potential appraisal clients to understand, like appraiser, what is and what is not confidential information.

For more appraisal information contact Glenn J. Rigdon MA, MRICS, ASA is a Las Vegas / Henderson Nevada based appraiser who can be contacted via email or via his business website known as Appraiser Las Vegas  (http://www.appraiserlasvegas.com), or you can also click on “Contact Us” on the home page of this website or visit my public profile at LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/glenn-rigdon-ma-mrics-asa/1a/30b/879/

Article source: http://www.appraisalarticles.com/General-Appraisal-Articles/General-Appraisal-Articles/Appraisal-Ethics//4609-Are-Home-Appraisals-Considered-Confidential.html

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