The assessor is not trained in appraisal methodology and is subject to no accountability for his figures.Here is Mr. Miller's response, quoted with his permission:
In fact, Mr. Kaufman has informed me that he is, himself, a licensed and certified Virginia appraiser. Further, he holds the Certified Assessment Evaluator designation, which is the highest designation available from the International Association of Assessing Officers. His professional and academic credentials include considerable experience and education in the art of appraisal. Owing to his work, Loudoun county has one of the highest scores in the state for the accuracy of its assessments when they are compared with actual sales.I had no intention of bringing Mr. Kaufman into this personally. I used his title instead of his name throughout my original blog post. Now though, in having two members of the Board of Supervisors bring him up by name in fervent defense, he becomes the object of attention.
I checked it out with the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, and Mr. Miller is correct that Mr. Kaufman is a Certified Residential Appraiser. This is one of four appraiser license categories under 18VAC130-20-10. Under this license, Mr. Kaufman "may appraise properties of 1-4 residential units regardless of transaction value and non-residential properties with transaction values up to $250,000." In other words, by law Loudoun County and LCPS would be unable to hire him to do an appraisal on the Rouse property, which requires a Certified General Appraiser's license.
So I stand corrected regarding Mr. Kaufman's certification, but not in terms of his ability to provide a professional appraisal of the Rouse property. He is unqualified. Yet the Board of Supervisors changed the future of Loudoun County school children on the basis of Mr. Kaufman's evaluation.
Regarding my statement that Mr. Kaufman is "subject to no accountability for his figures," I was referring to the figures valuing the Rouse property, not to assessments generally. I was unclear last time, so let me be more specific now. The LCPS appraiser must be prepared to defend his appraisal of the Rouse property in a court of law it were to come to condemnation proceedings. Mr. Kaufman only needed to defend his Rouse property numbers to nine part-time politicians who were predisposed to believe him because he was giving them the answer they wanted to hear.
As you read this and as I write it, it can be difficult to keep the terms "appraisal" and "assessment" separate. Mr. Miller himself alternates them in his letter, and I believe that Mr. Kaufman may be using them interchangeably as well in defending himself to the Supervisors, further confusing the situation. Yet assessment and appraisal are entirely different practices. Further, while Mr. Kaufman is certified in appraisal (albeit not in the type of appraisal required for the Rouse property, as noted above), he did not use proper appraisal techniques when providing his spreadsheet to the Board of Supervisors.
I have no question that Mr. Kaufman is qualified to *assess* properties, and that his work is held to very high standards and has achieved noteworthy success. Nonetheless, Mr. Kaufman's numbers on a $11.5M/$9.5M/$5.7M/$2.6M (take your pick) property influenced a public decision when by state regulation Mr. Kaufman’s qualification to *appraise* properties does not extend to non-residential properties of a value over $250,000.