Editor’s Note: Here's how one appraiser fought his way off a
Citibank "do not use" list.
Fighting Your Way Off a Blacklist
By David Brauner, Editor
After over two years and many
tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue, appraiser Bill Smith fought his
way off Citibank’s infamous “do not use list.” Here’s how he did it.
To begin with, Smith (not his
real name), has a “can you top this” aspect of how he was blacklisted in the
first place: it was not even his appraisal. Smith was blacklisted over two
years ago in connection with an appraisal he completed a “market conditions
update” for. Repeat: he did not do the appraisal.
Smith’s story is more typical in other details: a form letter arrives announcing
the blacklisting without any opportunity to provide feedback or comment; work
from one or more appraisal management companies (AMC) dries up, anger and
frustration set in.
Smith identified a contact at Citibank and submitted a rebuttal. He says they
have 30 days to respond and on about day 30 they did: he remained blacklisted
with no further explanation- for the appraisal he didn’t do.
Smith went higher up the chain
at Citibank. This time, a change in status was granted: yes, his work would be
accepted, as long as it was accompanied by a review. Most AMCs, no matter how
much they like you, don’t like you enough to be willing to order (and pay for) a
review on each order. The spigot remained closed. The frustration deepened.
About two months ago, Smith simultaneously submitted an
online complaint to the Office of the Comptroller of
the Currency (OCC) (see link below) and his state Office of Real Estate
Appraising (OREA-Calif.)- after reading a story in Working RE (See
Suspension Merry-Go-Round, pg. 26). The OCC takes complaints on banks
directly from consumers, such as appraisers. Smith says one of these two
levers did the trick- a few weeks ago he received a letter from Citibank
confirming his removal from the blacklist.
Smith says the OREA regulates the AMCs that operate in his state but do not
interact or communicate with banks. Smith confirmed that OREA sent an inquiry to
the AMC that stopped sending him work (and who ordered the market conditions
update in the first place). So, Smith deduces that either the OREA inquiry
nudged the AMC to ask Citibank to resolve the issue or, more likely, the OCC
complaint got Citibank to move.
“I’m pretty sure it was the
OCC complaint that did it,” says Smith. “Reference to the OCC complaint was
mentioned right in the letter from Citibank informing me I was removed from the
'do not use' list.”
Smith continues, “There has got to be some method for appraisers to present
their side of the story. By the time we hear anything a decision is made and we
have no chance or recourse to defend ourselves. It’s not right. But if my
response is an indication, it looks like the Feds are taking complaints from
Smith says it pays to be persistent, if you meet resistance dealing with federal
agencies in an effort to fight blacklisting. He said he first contacted the
agency over a year ago and was stonewalled. “Like
many government agencies, they didn't know what their own procedures are and
sent me away saying it was another agency's job. You really have to get to the
right person. I persisted and someone finally told me about the Consumer
Assistance Group which is where I filed the complaint that worked.” (Here’s
where to file a complaint:
***In Working RE's Webinar Series, Limit Liability, Maintain Independence, and Fight Influence, nationally
renowned instructor and expert
Richard Hagar, SRA will detail how appraisers can protect themselves and their
independence in the face of AMC requests, questions, and threats of blacklisting
influencing and distorting your report.
Learn to protect your independence as an appraiser with Hagar's
Three Part Series.
About the Author David Brauner is Editor of Working RE magazine and Senior Broker at
OREP.org, a leading
provider of E&O Insurance for appraisers, inspectors and other real estate
professionals in 49 states. He has covered the appraisal profession for over
20 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (888) 347-5273. Calif. Insurance Lic. #0C89873.
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