Frequently Asked Questions - Enforcement
- What is the function of BREA's Enforcement Unit?
- Who can file a complaint?
- When can a complaint be filed?
- How is a complaint filed?
- Who typically files complaints?
- What are the most common allegations?
- What is BREA’s complaint process?
- How are compliant investigations conducted?
- How long does it take to resolve a complaint/case?
- Will the appraiser or AMC be told who filed the complaint?
- What can an appraiser or AMC do to avoid having a complaint filed against them?
Question: What is the function of BREA’s Enforcement Unit?
Answer: Investigate the background of Applicants, Licensees, Controlling Persons and Designated Officers of AMCs with convictions of law or who have engaged in other conduct that calls into question their fitness for licensure or registration.
Investigate complaints of unlawful and unethical activities filed against licensed appraisers, AMCs, educational course providers and persons acting in a capacity that requires a license.
Examine work samples of Respondents being monitored as part of their disciplinary action.
Examine work samples of Applicants for licensure.
Respond to public inquiries.
NOTE: BREA cannot act as a court of law, order the refund of monies, award damages, enforce contractual agreements or give legal advice. If any of these are your goal, you may wish to contact an attorney or your local Better Business Bureau.
Question: Who can file a complaint?
Answer: Any person may file a complaint alleging that any applicant for a license, holder of a license, or any Controlling Persons and Designated Officers of an AMC or a Registered AMC, has committed acts or omissions constituting unethical or unprofessional conduct. The complaint must be mailed to BREA with the appropriate complaint form. Such complaint may, but need not, specify the provisions of law, regulations or USPAP alleged to have been violated.
Question: When can a complaint be filed?
Answer: A complaint may be filed at any time there is a legitimate complaint with supporting documentation. Complaints should be filed as soon as possible after the event.
Question: How is a complaint filed?
If you would like to mail in your complaint, a printable complaint form is available from the Forms page on this website for both Appraiser Complaints and AMC Complaints. A complaint form will also be mailed to you by contacting BREA by phone or mail. Complete the form and send it, along with relevant documents, to: BREA, Enforcement Unit, 1102 Q Street, Suite 4100, Sacramento, CA 95811.
Question: Who typically files complaints?
Answer: Complaints filed against Appraisers:
- 45% of Complaints are filed by Lenders, AMCs, and Government Agencies (FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FDIC, OCC, etc.)
- 20% of Complaints are filed by Homeowners and/or Borrowers
- 20% of Complaints are filed by Appraisers
- 15% of Complaints are filed by “Others” (Realtors, Lawyers, Law Enforcement, etc.)
Answer: Complaints filed against Appraisal Management Companies
Question: What are the most common allegations?
Answer: Most common residential appraiser allegations:
Answer: Most common non-residential appraiser allegations:
Answer: Most common AMC allegations:
Question: What is BREA’s complaint process?
Answer: Once a complaint is received, BREA will send an acknowledgement letter to the complainant. An Enforcement Unit investigator will then screen the complaint package. The screening process will take into account the allegations, BREAs authority, and the potential harm to the public. The investigator may contact the appraiser, AMC, or other market participants. Screening will result in either closing the case or assigning the case for an extended investigation.If the case is assigned, a demand letter may be sent to the appraiser or AMC. The appraiser or AMC may also be contacted for an interview. After completion of the extended investigative process, an examination of the facts will be made to determine if a violation(s) has occurred and disciplinary sanctions will be imposed, when appropriate. The Appraiser or AMC will be notified by BREA of the outcome of the case. The Appraiser or AMC may contest BREA’s determination or sections by filing a Notice of Defense. A hearing will be held before an Administrative Law Judge of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).
After the case has been closed, the complainant will be sent a closure letter.
Question: How are compliant investigations conducted?
Answer: BREA Investigators are experienced licensed appraisers. The assigned Investigator will determine the facts of the case by examining the appraisal report(s) and other documentation, interviewing witnesses and market participants, independently verifying information and factual data, and conferencing the appraiser or AMC as applicable.The assigned Investigator will then prepare a confidential Investigative Report. BREA Investigators do not preform appraisal reviews or field reviews. Assigned Investigators may or may not visit subject and comparable site locations to determine accurate and factual site characteristics and locations factors. The confidential Investigative Report will be sent on to the Enforcement Unit management for examination and decision.
Question: How long does it take to resolve a complaint/case?
Answer: BREA will make every effort to resolve complaints as quickly as possible. Many factors impact the length of an investigation, including: BREA’s case load, the complexity of the case, the availability and cooperation of witnesses, and whether or not a site visit(s) is(are) necessary.
Since BREA must investigate complaints in order of their priority based on the seriousness of the allegations, likelihood of continuing harm to the public, and other factors, it is not possible to estimate how long it will take to resolve a complaint. For this reason, BREA encourages you not to wait for the resolution of a complaint before seeking legal advice or pursuing other appropriate remedies.
Question: Will the appraiser or AMC be told who filed the complaint?
Answer: BREA will make every effort to keep a complainant’s identity confidential. However, BREA cannot guarantee a complainant’s anonymity and will probably be required to reveal a complainant’s identity if the matter is filed with the Office of Administrative Hearing.
Question: What can an appraiser or AMC do to avoid having a complaint filed against them?
Answer: Appraisers and AMCs are responsible for knowing and abiding by State and Federal Laws. Although BREA can never provide absolute assurance that a complaint will not be filed, both Appraisers and AMCs may better protect themselves from complaints by avoiding miscommunications and ensuring professional communications with the appropriate parties. Additionally, consider the following:
- Use written engagement documents that include all terms, including but not limited to (as applicable): delivery date, fees, assignment conditions (clearly defined), and the subject property address.
- Maintain and retain all documentation in compliance with all applicable laws. Current Laws and Regulations are available on the BREA website.
- Conduct all business in a professional and courteous manner.