Is it Really That Difficult?

By | March 11, 2019

The information is on the website…

They could have picked up the phone and called…

They could have sent an email…

They could have sent a fax…

Did They?

 

A recruiter for Mueller Services, Inc. (Mueller Reports) contacted a VaCAP member about joining their team as a W-2 employee to complete bifurcated appraisals. Our member communicated with them and received samples of their product.  During the course of the communication, the recruiter mentioned, via email:

  “In the past 30 days, we have had 23 cases in Virginia as a whole and expect that number only to increase. ” 

A quick check on the Department of Professional Occupational Regulations (DPOR) website revealed Mueller Services, Inc. is not registered as an appraisal firm. In fact they are not registered at all. In Virginia, to operate an appraisal business, you must be registered as a business entity with DPOR.  This includes businesses residing in and outside of Virginia.  In Virginia, the information, application and instructions are on the website. DPOR has telephones,  Mueller Services, Inc could have picked up the phone and talked with someone. Or even still, they could have emailed or faxed a question.  The email address and fax number  is right there on the website. What about Mueller’s legal counsel? Certainly they should have known a license maybe required.

If your business is an LLC, corporation, or partnership, you must also be registered with the State Corporation Commission (SCC). This also includes businesses residing in and outside of Virginia that are conducting business in Virginia. A quick check of the SCC’s website revealed, Mueller Services is not registered with the SCC either.  Our member forwarded the information to DPOR as a formal complaint. A response was received.

Bottom line, Mueller Services, Inc.  has been operating in Virginia without proper licensing and registration! 

“A foreign corporation, limited liability company, business trust, limited partnership or registered limited liability partnership (i.e., organized or existing under the laws of a state or jurisdiction other than Virginia) may not transact business in Virginia until it obtains a certificate of authority or certificate of registration from the State Corporation Commission.”

Now we understand that every state is different, but seriously come on, how hard is it to find out what is required? All you have to do is do a Google Search, or heck just ask Siri!  The SCC’s website has a FAQ section which spells out the need for registering with the SCC and even spells out registration is also required with the Virginia Department of Taxation as well as the Virginia Employment Commission.

How many other states is Mueller operating in without a proper license and registration?

So what are the consequences of not obtaining proper registration and authority to operate in Virginia? Well the SCC’s FAQ’s answers that question with a direct link to § 13.1-920. Consequences of transacting business without authority.  What protections of law does the consumer have? If the appraiser is licensed and the company is not, will the appraiser be liable in a court of law?

What about those bifurcated appraisal reports Mueller is completing?

Here is a  sample of a Mueller Report. You decide: Has the appraiser analyzed and summarized the required information in accordance with USPAP Standards 1 and 2?  What about highest and best use? Has an analysis been done? Results summarized? Has the appraiser used recognized methods and techniques to determine a site value?  Does this report indicate the appraiser has complied with all aspects of USPAP?  Is this a credible report?

VaCAP can not stress enough to do your due diligence on all your assignments. If a company you have not done business with before approaches you, check to make sure they are properly registered with DPOR as well as the SCC. Your recourse may be limited if something goes wrong.  As for a bifurcated appraisal, remember you are responsible for all the information in the report, including property information provided by someone else. The Virginia Real Estate Appraisal Board will be issuing a guidance document to all licensees in the coming months. We recommend following  that guidance once released.

 

Thank you for being part of VaCAP!

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Is it Really That Difficult?

  1. Krys Schware

    Very informative article. Thank you for bringing light to this.

    Reply
  2. Mike Ford, American Guild of Appraisers

    Pat you mean the same Virginia that let Coester skate by with no punishment over 3 years ago? Not much sense having ‘protective’ laws that they have no intention of enforcing.

    Reply
  3. David

    The sample appraisal report is very telling. Several areas of questionable compliance with USPAP.

    Reply
  4. Desiree Mehbod

    I ran into a Mueller “inspector” yesterday. While driving my comps, I saw a guy with a measuring wheel and thought he was an appraiser. So I stopped to chat. When I asked him if he was an appraiser, he said sort of… he does inspections for Mueller. Naturally, my antenna went up and I started to drill him with questions.

    I asked him how much he gets paid, how many he does a day, what he does during inspections, if he does interior/exterior or just exterior inspections, what does the report looks like etc. He stated that the fee depends on the job (insurance purposes or appraisals, exterior only or interior and exterior inspections) and that he gets paid between $12 to $40. He also get bonuses depending on speed. Bonuses of $5. He does both exterior only and full inspections. He does not get paid more for complexity, size, distance, etc. He tries to “inspect” multiple properties in the same area to maximize profit.

    Everything is done on the app. He checks in when he gets to the property and checks out for time spent at the property (speed), records his mileage, takes photos (front, street and rear; the latter if possible, if not he makes notation), takes measurements if job requires it and if possible (if not makes notation) and enters everything in the app.

    I asked if he was a home inspector; no; assessor; no; so any experience in real estate; yes; would you care to specify; sure I’m a realtor and he hands me his business card. I gave him mine and told him that I make $150 per final inspection and that I would never do what he does for $12-$40.

    Reply
  5. Mike

    On the top of page 3 of the sample report it states the appraiser is a designated member of the Appraisal Institute. Can anyone point to any AI course or publication that states restating the assessors value is an acceptable method to determine a site value? What about any other source? Do any “peers” do that?

    What gets me is the appraiser made adjustments for site size differences based on the tax assessment! Well at least he / she explained what they did, but that does not make it right.

    What about those basement adjustments? No room count above grade, but inconsistent adjustments for below grade room counts The report has no credibility.

    Reply

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