My children loved The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, an environmentally friendly book in which a creature called the Lorax spoke “for the trees.” While real estate appraisers are not subject to the environmental difficulties that our flora and fauna face, I have seen an increase in the number of attacks on real estate appraisers over the past few years, including reports to state licensing authorities seeking censure or removal of appraisers’ licenses. The complainers often have their own economic interest in the transaction, including sellers when the appraisal price is too low, buyers when the appraisal price is too high or lenders after a default.
I often speak to groups of professionals on how to avoid errors and omissions claims. When I started making such presentations more than 30 years ago, I would hold up a piece of notebook paper and explain that it was a professional’s “best friend” when it comes to avoiding future problems. A memo of a conversation with a client detailing and confirming the services that can (or can’t) be delivered and the realistic outcomes that can (or can’t) result from those services may provide the best defense when a client complains. This is only true to a point. Sometimes, written communications provide a client with ammunition for a claim of negligence.
Superstorms such as Sandy and Irene impacted the daily lives of the people who lived through them and the destruction of property totaled in the billions of dollars. Today, design professionals are faced with a new concern arising from these superstorms: whether to provide voluntarily professional services in aid for rebuilding efforts.
As part of my blog training, I was asked to review my social media presence in general and in particular my LinkedIn account. My profile, admittedly, had not been reviewed in some time, so I updated my bio and skills section.
This made me think about “puffing,” which I learned about in my Contracts class in law school. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is something we experience daily in sales transactions and advertising. Puffing is the exaggeration of the positives of a service or product or anything else someone is looking to sell. Any advertisement that includes superlatives – such as “greatest,” or “best” – or statements that are clearly not intended as factual representations are not generally actionable if you buy the “product” and find it to be lacking. Consumers dealing with a salesperson should expect some level of “puffing.”