When litigation involves real estate it is common practice for both you and opposing counsel to engage the services of a qualified real estate appraiser. While the two estimates of value should be relatively similar, that is not always the case. When this happens, you typically ask the appraiser you engaged to look at the other report and explain the discrepancies, errors, and weaknesses.

 

Unfortunately, there are flaws in this strategy:

  • The report by your testifying expert may be the one with the noteworthy discrepancies, errors, and weaknesses
  • Your own expert may be hesitant to point to errors and weaknesses in their own report
  • In all professions, we find experts who “seem” to have mastery of their fields, but unfortunately, this is not always true
  • It is simply human nature to struggle with being completely forthcoming when highlighting our own weaknesses
  • Input provided to you by your testifying expert may be subject to discovery

When commenting on the work of others, an appraiser must adhere to a set of standards that are not typically required in routine appraisal work. Failure to adhere to the higher set of standards is extremely common and rarely intentional. If opposing counsel can show that your appraiser did not comply with USPAP’s Standard Rule 3 or other applicable requirements, or can show that your expert did not even realize they needed to, it may open the door to questions about whether your expert followed the proper standards in developing their own opinion of value.

 

Steven's analytical skills, combined with a very pragmatic approach, can be quite useful in assisting you in providing to your client superior representation. When acting as an appraiser, your testifying expert is required to maintain objectivity and show no bias. Steven is highly trained in appraisal methodology and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. As a consulting expert, Steven can act as your advocate, while still adhering to the highest of ethical standards. Your own expert cannot do that because taking on an advocacy role itself violates their ethical duty of neutrality.

 

As your consulting expert Steven is behind the scenes and can:

  • Assist you in understanding the analysis behind the opinions and conclusions presented in the report
  • Assist you in understanding applicable standards and guidelines
  • Reconcile the two reports, pointing out the errors and weaknesses in both reports so you are prepared on both direct and cross
  • Conduct a thorough analysis of one or both reports for the use of proper methodology
  • Conduct a thorough analysis of one or both reports for adherence to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and any other applicable requirements
  • Work with you and your testifying expert with a draft of their report to ensure it is well presented, clear, and thorough
  • Assist in developing litigation strategies
  • Prepare you for the depositions of both appraisers, as their well as testimony and cross-examination
  • Review with you the transcripts of both depositions, highlighting your opportunities for cross-examination, while preparing your expert for your opponent’s cross
  • Aid in preparing appeals

It may seem more cost effective to use the appraiser you engaged as both a testifying expert and consulting expert. But your expert will expect to be compensated for their additional work. Consider risk versus reward. Your expert has to stay neutral, Steven does not; Steven is your advocate. You are welcome to call to discuss ways in which making Sargent Consulting a part of your team will enhance the level of service you provide to your client.

 View Steven Berg's profile on LinkedIn