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Residential Appraisals for Litigation 101: An Interview with Stan Tish of Berliner, Kidder & Tish

By Stan Tish

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Berliner, Kidder & Tish is a full-service forensic real estate appraisal and consulting firm that performs a wide variety of assignments on various types of commercial, industrial, residential, agricultural, and special purpose properties, as well as undeveloped acreage and intangible property rights. The practice specializes in appraisals for litigation, arbitration and dispute resolution; estate, income and gift taxes; and ad valorem tax valuation.

What are some of the most common reasons that a residential real estate appraisal is needed for litigation?

Construction defects, specific performance, dual agency, easement valuation, estate planning and taxation, divorce, foreclosure, casualty loss, environmental hazards, eminent domain, or non-compliance with professional appraisal standards.

Who orders or makes arrangements for the appraisal in those cases?

Typically the attorney representing the property owner, but it could be counsel for a public agency or an insurer.

Does the actual home inspection for litigation purposes differ from a standard home inspection?

It might be more detailed and thorough for appraisal purposes, but appraisers do not typically have expertise in home inspection. Depending upon the nature of the case, we may rely upon the work of other experts such as engineers, contractors, or environmental remediators.

Can you briefly explain what additional steps you would typically take?

If there are no floor plans available, we will measure the house and prepare a sketch of the floor plan. We photograph the interior and exterior and take notes. For damage claims or construction defects, we take an abundance of photographs.

Is there anything that California homeowners should know about the process when a home appraisal is being performed for litigation purposes?

It's performed to a higher standard of care, may take weeks or months to complete, will not typically result in a written report being prepared, and will cost substantially more than an appraisal for financing. The final opinion of value will be defensible from adversarial scrutiny.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

By email at, or by phone at 650.326.8852.

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