6 Horror flicks that describe an appraiser’s job

An appraiser’s life can sometimes be frightening!

gargoyleIt seems appropriate that at this time of year I share with you some of the things that appraisers find frightening. There are a lot of scary movies leading up to Halloween and it got me to thinking about horror flicks that describe an appraiser’s job. Without further ado here is my list of scary movies, won’t you add your own in the comments section?

1The Conjuring– Homeowners have their own ideas about what their homes is worth, and they don’t care if it is based in reality or not. At times it seems that the value they think their home is worth has been conjured up out of thin air. Appraisers dread the moment when the owner pulls out the list of how much they’ve spent on their home and are under the assumption they’ll get a 100% return on their investment.

In reality the value is based primarily on what the market will support and this may not always equate to how much it cost you to make the improvements. Before investing in home improvements it’s a good idea to first see how much value they will bring, that way you can make informed decisions based on the cost and benefits of the improvement.

2Cujo– I was reminded of this movie while doing an appraisal several years ago. It’s an appraisers job toBeware of dog investigate all areas of the house in order to get as much information as possible. I was taking upstairs measurements on a house while the homeowner was hanging out downstairs. They failed to mention to me that their pet dog, a pit bull, had just had a litter of puppies and she was with them in one of the bedrooms.

I found out real quick that she was very protective when I opened the door to a bedroom and heard an intimidating growl come from across the room, just as she started to charge the door. I now make it a habit to ask owners if they have dogs and if they are in a cage.

3A Nightmare on Elm Street– I’ve made it a habit to never say “I’m glad I don’t have to appraise that house” whenever I see an odd or unique property because just as soon as I say that I will get the assignment to appraise it.halloween house

This happened to me one time when I saw this old run down home while doing another assignment. When I went to do the appraisal inspection I discovered that it was the home that I had recently seen, my luck!

The home had a lot of repairs that needed to be made along with some other issues and after communicating this to the lender they decided to pass on it. I narrowly escaped that nightmare of an appraisal.

4I Know What You Did Last Summer– You built an addition to your house didn’t you? You finished off that room over the garage into a playroom for the kids. Appraisers have a trained eye when it comes to spotting differences in construction quality and floorplan layout. We know when something looks different. This is not always an issues but when the additions are of lesser quality and not permitted then it can cause problems.

My appraiser friend Ryan Lundquist recently wrote about unpermitted additions and how they can be viewed differently by appraisers, lenders, and the city building inspector. Do you want that extra room counted? Make sure you get a proper building permit and avoid the terror you’ll find when you get no value for the addition or even have to remove it.

5The Ring– The most terrifying ring an appraiser can hear is his phone ringing and the caller being from an Appraisal Management Company (AMC) wanting to know the progress of the appraisal you’re doing for them. I’m not against them checking in every now and then but there are some that will wear your phone out. If they would leave you alone and let you work on the appraisal you could get it back to them a heck of a lot quicker, but by wasting our time with status updates the job takes a lot longer.

6The Last House On The Left– During an appraisal inspection I don’t mind owners telling me about

7 Montagel Way

Photo courtesy of Birmingham Multiple Listing Service

houses in the neighborhood that have sold. After all there could be one that didn’t show up in my search or was a private sale. What sends chills up my spine is when the owner tells me that the last house on the left down the street just sold last month and would be an “awesome” comp.

When I cruise by the house to take a look it turns out the house is twice as big, is on a much larger lot, and looks like the Biltmore Estate. There’s a difference between a sale and comp and this one was definitely not a comp.


What horror flicks can you think of?

Do any other scary movies not mentioned here describe your job as an appraiser? I would love to see some others so leave a comment below and we’ll keep the conversation going. As always, thanks for reading.

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  1. Great post-Tom! Since I am in Texas, we may or may not have encountered some places reminiscent of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre …… we have definitely had some Cujo experiences as well as Nightmare on Elm Street. I like Gary’s take on Ghost Busters- Who you gonna call? – Appraisers!.

  2. There’s a “Pet Cemetery” in the backyard. How does that impact value?

  3. How could you leave out Ghostbusters in 2016? 🙂 “If there is something strange in the neighborhood – Who you gonna call?” “If there is something weid and you can’t find comps – Who you gonna call? Appraisers!” “Think you better call, Appraisers! “I ain’t afraid of no appraisal.”

  4. Money Pit

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