The Public in the Public Trust

In the latest USPAP Q&A recently published by the Appraisal Foundation is the question, who or what represent the public. The Q&A attempts to answer the question, with the public being the client, to intended users, other third parties using the appraisal, and the general public.

Well, there you go.

USPAP Q&A reports
The expression “public trust” is used in USPAP. What is public trust and who or what is the public in the USPAP context?

USPAP mentions public trust three times. The PREAMBLE states that the purpose of USPAP is to “… promote and maintain a high level of public trust in appraisal practice by establishing requirements for appraisers.” The PREAMBLE also states “The appraiser’s responsibility is to protect the overall public trust and it is the importance of the role of the appraiser that places ethical obligations on those who serve in this capacity.” Lastly, the ETHICS RULE reinforces this concept with “An appraiser must promote and preserve the public trust inherent in appraisal practice by observing the highest standards of professional ethics.”

While USPAP does not define public trust, it is clear from the context that it refers to the need for the public to be able to have confidence that services provided by an appraiser are performed competently and in a manner that is independent, impartial, and objective.

The public, whose trust the appraiser must promote and preserve, exists on several levels.The most direct is the appraiser’s client. In addition to the client, any additional intended users would be part of the appraiser’s public. But, even beyond the client and other intended users, there are other parties who may rely on the work an appraiser and the appraiser must be careful not to mislead such third parties. Finally, it could be said that the general public is also part of that public. If the general public cannot depend on appraisers to act as independent professionals and provide credible results, the economy
could suffer.
Source: The Appraisal Foundation 

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