Frank Gregoire, a St. Petersburg property appraiser, couldn't help but chuckle when an appraisal request came through his fax machine this month. It was sent by a California loan originator, and the message was clear:
"Please call if unable to attain this value BEFORE INSPECTION." Photos of the property, the request said, could not include "unfinished construction or damage."
Gregoire knew right away that the loan company was trying to influence his valuation of the home and it would be unethical to take on the work.
"It was the most blatant request I've seen," said Gregoire, who is chairman of the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board. He said he's seen a recent spike in unethical requests like the one from California.