New York Expands Inquiry into ‘Appraisal Bullying’

Bloomberg reports that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is looking to get appraisers to formally admit to “improper” pressure to hit target home values from overly-aggressive brokers and lenders:

Miller Samuel Inc. and Mitchell, Maxwell & Jackson Inc., which together valued more than 13,000 Manhattan properties last year, both said they were asked to sign identical statements by Cuomo’s staff…. The document Cuomo distributed says in part: “I have been improperly pressured to reach a predetermined value for a property or to alter an appraisal after I completed it. I have also been threatened with the withholding of future business for refusing.”

Both appraisal firms said they edited the attestation before signing it, but agreed with what appears to be the state’s expansion of its real estate industry inquiry. Jonathan Miller, president at Miller Samuel Inc., told Bloomberg he went even further than the original attestation Cuomo was circulating:

Miller said he removed the reference to being threatened, instead saying that he thinks he lost business because he wouldn’t bow to pressure. He also changed a statement saying that such pressure has had “a significant negative impact on the integrity of the real estate market” to say that the impact has been on the mortgage industry. “I was thrilled to help,” said Miller, who writes about appraisal ethics on his blog, “It’s a topic that I have been very outspoken against for a number of years.”

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