Photo Credit: Lansing State Journal

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell your home, an appraiser is the person who will determine how much your property is worth.

But according to state law, finding out how competent your appraiser is and whether they have a shady background is something that can be pretty tough. Investigators from Phoenix’s ABC 15 looked further into this issue to find out how difficult it really is to research an appraiser’s history.

Courtney Hoogervorst has been waiting nearly two years to get the results of a complaint she filed against an appraiser who she believes low-balled the value of her home.

“Did my complaint ever go anywhere? Did they ever follow up on it? Is that appraiser still working? I have no idea,” said Hoogervorst.

And according to Arizona state regulators, she isn’t supposed to have any idea. In fact, no one is. The state law prevents the public from knowing about any discipline other than formal hearings, suspension or revocation of licenses, and cease and desists orders. None of these happened to Hoogervorst’s appraiser.

ABC 15 was able to get a copy of the secret results of her complaint anyway. It showed that her appraiser failed to disclose or analyze crucial data leading to results that were not credible, he did not complete the assignment competently, and gave conflicting statements regarding the level of inspection. In total, there were 13 violations and no one is supposed to be in the know about any of them.

Appraiser Ann Susko looked at the documents herself and admitted, “it’s pretty bad.”

Susko has been in the industry since 1984. She teaches continuing education courses and was a chairperson of the Arizona Board of Appraisal, which used to investigate these complaints.

Susko says these complaints and results of past histories used to be public record, but in 2015, Governor Doug Ducey and the legislature moved appraisal duties to the Department of Financial Institution (DFI). DFI regulates banks, mortgage brokers, title loan companies and gives all of them the shield of confidentiality.

While there is no determination as to whether Hoogervorst got fair market value, the man agreed to three moths of probation and 22 hours of additional coursework.

In a statement, DFI says some appraisers alleged others filed complaints with little merit so that customers would avoid using them.