An appraisal group in Idaho is suing Countrywide (now Bank of America) for intimidating appraisers and pressuring them to generate reports in line with Countrywide’s business objectives.
The suit alleged Countrywide used improper appraisal techniques that benefited the lender and punished those who did not participate by blacklisting individuals and companies; in turn, causing “substantial damage to thousands of appraisers,” in addition to distorting real estate prices.
“The integrity of real estate appraisals is more important than ever and time and time again Countrywide is showing its customers and partners that it only cares about profits and market control,” said Steve Berman, managing partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, the firm representing the appraisers. “The bottom line is our nation’s at a breaking point where we can’t take anymore corporate dishonesty in the home market…”
According to Berman, if appraisers don’t “play ball” with Countrywide by producing a report affirming the appraisel value Countrwide expects, they’re blacklisted. The suit alleged, as of Aug. 28, 2008, more than 2,000 appraisers appeared on “the list.”
Countrywide was hardly the only lender to “blacklist” appraisers. And it will be interesting to see if other lenders are also sued for their “lists”.