Ethical Issues in Reporting Purchase Prices

October 2015American College of Mortgage Attorneys Annual Meeting

Reporting purchase prices can be a grey area, because this task does not necessarily belong exclusively to the lawyer – it is not a duty entrusted solely to those who practice law, and in many instances it is not the lawyer completing the certificate of value used to report the purchase price, but a title company or some other entity. Consequently, it is difficult to say what the hard and fast rules and ethical obligations for lawyers are pertaining to such instruments. Frequently, however, even if the lawyer is not the one reporting the purchase price to the assessor's office or taxing office through completing the certificate of value (Statement of Value, Preliminary Change of Ownership Report, etc.), the lawyer is still party to the transaction in a way that at the very least means the lawyer is aware of what the client is doing. The lawyer is documenting the transaction, or is asked his input on what consideration to record, or is a party to the deed with which the recording instrument is filed. These circumstances mean that the rules can be difficult to apply.