It's Only an Opinion: An Appraiser in Court
by Henry J. Wise
Published by Old Stone Press, Louisville, KY, 2019,
216 pages; $24.95 softcover, $7.99 Kindle
The chronicles of Henry "Hank" J. Wise's thirty-five-year career as an appraiser and witness are dispensed with humor and humility in It's Only an Opinion: An Appraiser in Court. The author's experiences are as varied as his education, which includes an academic background in political science and economics and teaching for the Appraisal Institute, the University of North Carolina, and West Georgia College. Wise's participation in diverse appraisal litigation assignments provide the background for lessons learned throughout the author's professional life, which he candidly shares with the reader.
One of the early lessons learned by the author is from a seemingly innocuous factual error he made when a lender client furnished an incomplete photocopy of a survey with a missing dimension he understandably overlooked, which resulted in a value error of less than one-half percent that was discovered during court testimony. The error resulted in the lender client going through the foreclosure process twice, and the author's errors and omissions insurance carrier was obligated to pay back the appraisal fee and about $25,000 in other costs to the lender client as a settlement. Yes, it was the same lender client that furnished the incomplete copy of the survey. Wise uses this event to advise that appraisers seldom get into trouble for an error in judgment but can get into serious trouble for a factual error. The lesson conveyed is to check all the facts personally and trust no one to do your job.
Chapter 2 is devoted to the author's journey in becoming an appraiser, earning the Appraisal Institute's MAI designation in addition to two master's degrees, and the certified business appraiser (CBA) certification. Information is provided detailing a brief history of the Appraisal Institute and the Society of Real Estate Appraisers as well as their related designations. The expert witness function is explained in Chapter 3. Chapter 4, "Appraisal Is a Stinking Business," follows, with a discussion about a condemnation court case involving a rendering plant used for converting dead horses, cows, spoiled meat, and restaurant grease into marketable commodities used in various products. The courts in Georgia allow testimony and awards for loss of business value in condemnation cases, and the ruling on the...