Real estate appraisals are a necessary part of the litigation process in a variety of situations - from equitable distribution in divorces, to environmental contamination cases, to bankruptcy, fraud, tax disputes and more.
Some cases center around the value of a property, while others rely on valuation to estimate damages brought on by, or to prove, some contractual failure.
Whatever the reason or type of case, qualified Real Estate appraisers are brought into litigation to provide expert testimony to help judges and juries settle these court decisions and settlements. Here are some of the reasons why the litigation support they provide is so important to the process.
Educating the Attorney
Just as appraisers are experts at valuating a property, attorneys are experts at knowing the law and influencing people, usually having little to no expertise in real estate valuation. The experience and qualified information an appraiser provides is vital to the attorney in building their case, and also in challenging their opponent’s valuation claims.
Clear Communication = Credibility
Because many cases come down to the testimony of real estate experts on both sides, their contribution and importance to the process is vital to its success.
A qualified appraiser with litigation experience will know how to tailor their testimony and findings to be easily presented and comprehended by the judge or jury. Gaining credibility through proper analysis and clearly communicated opinion and testimony will garner the most influence, and ultimately help win the case.
Qualified valuators can be essential to challenging the conclusions of opposing parties. Through research and analysis, the appraiser will apply their knowledge and years of experience to provide a competent critique of depositions, testimony and existing appraisal reports. This information is vital to the attorney in preparing cross examination of expert valuation witnesses.
Choosing the Right Expert For Litigation
As a vital part of the litigation process, it’s important to choose the right appraiser. Along with experience, technical abilities and a professional court presence, the valuation expert should hold professional designations from the Appraisal Institute. According to the American Bar Association, “... the most important credential for a valuation case is the MAI designation, which is further enhanced if the expert also has a CRE designation.”
Check out these resources for attorneys from the Appraisal Institute.
Image: Flickr -Credibility