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One Florida appraiser is already facing fraud charges — and we’re predicting that there are going to be a lot more Florida appraisers in lawsuits and facing criminal charges.

This month, licensed appraiser Jay Whitham is being tried on criminal fraud charges based upon the state’s argument that he intentionally prepared a phony and fraudulent appraisal for property, giving it a fair market value it did not deserve.  Whitham turned over his license here in Florida – but he’s still a licensed appraiser in North Carolina.

Seems appraiser Whitham was hired to perform an independent, professional appraisal of a real estate project, River Meadows, and he took comps (comparable fair market property values) not from residential developments like the 22 acre River Meadows project, but instead from commercial properties.  Commercial properties sell for more than residential property or raw land.

This is a basic, big, No-No.   Professional appraisers know this.

The charges against Jay Whitham have been brought by Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the criminal matter is proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge.  There are also private civil lawsuits that media reports suggest have been, or are being filed, against this appraiser as well.

And this guy isn’t going to be the last appraiser that is going to get caught doing bad things.  Florida state regulators are already checking into other appraisers to see if they intentionally boosted the appraisal values on properties for their own benefit.

Could your appraiser have artificially inflated the value of your property?  Maybe.

We’ve published a number of posts dealing with the aftermath of falling home values in Florida – and while there are arguments that homes cannot be sold for the prices we saw in 2006 and prior years because of a recessionary economy, there are also concerns that greedy real estate professionals worked hard to inflate real estate values because it benefited their pockets to do so.  Key to that argument:  inflated appraisals.

If you have a question or concern about your home appraisal, then:

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