A "heads up" to fellow appraisers who work with AMCs:
I recently applied to Solidifi, as they allow appraisers to collect their full fees. When I read the "Terms of Service" contract, I found the following clause:
(b)YOUR INDEMNITY: You, at Your expense, shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless Solidifi, its affiliates and their directors, officers, employees, agents and subcontractors, from and against any Claim brought against them [a list of reasons follows].
I consulted with two attorneys, who confirmed my understanding that in layman's terms, this means, "if anything goes wrong, you [the appraiser] will hire and pay for an attorney for Solidifi."
I also wrote to Solidifi to see if it was possible to delete or modify that clause. Mark Pawelek, the Director of Appraisal Management, responded:
"Regarding your concern about the hold harmless clause, our company simply acts as a portal or conduit for the ordering of appraisals between lenders and independent appraisers. The appraisals are conducted independently by appraisers such as yourself and Solidifi doesn’t influence or alter the contents of the appraisal reports. Therefore it would not be prudent for us to take on the independent appraisers liability if he or she made a material error / omission or fraud related to the report. This liability is the same liability that the appraiser would have if the lender was ordering directly with the independent appraiser."
In my view, if Solidifi is merely a conduit, then Solidifi's risk is restricted to their actual involvement, and Solidifi should carry its own insurance for that risk. The idea that Solidifi has the same liability as the appraiser is (as far as I can tell) factually incorrect.
Regardless of the argument, for an AMC to push its liability (whatever it may be) onto appraisers is simply outrageous. This would be analogous to appraisers extracting an agreement from Microsoft that required them to hire our legal help because we use Windows to prepare our reports.
I also think enough has probably already been said about the recent events which have allowed appraisers to be divided and exploited.
I see that a few states are drafting regulation for AMCs, and I am looking forward to those regulatory changes which will hopefully help curtail the opportunistic predation that has been a hallmark of AMC practices.
I also sincerely hope that appraisers throughout Washington consider membership in ACOW as a way they can help all of us stand together and effectively resist our attackers and detractors.