Monday, December 4, 2023 | The Latest Buzz for the Appraisal Industry

The Men In Black Were Always Watching

Have you ever tried to do an appraisal for a house so big that you could literally get lost doing the exterior measurements? What about one where the seller insisted on absolutely no interior photos? What about an appraisal where the house itself had several bodyguards? I have – just once. My advice? If a client offers you such a job, politely turn it down.

This appraisal inspection began along the Sunset Strip. After traveling down a seemingly endless private driveway, I was greeted by two men in dark clothing – almost a Men In Black (MIB) situation. However, they weren’t wearing suits and they weren’t funny – but they did have those earpieces. Before they said a word, I told them who I was and why I was there. They conferred for a minute and said that I could exit the vehicle. What a relief.

The owner lived at the property less than 25% of the year and decided to sell. So, the guest house would have to be vacant, right? Wrong. There was a 20-25 year-old living in the guest house. After speaking with this person for a few minutes, I was jealous. It wasn’t because he was living in the guest house of this particular celebrity, it’s because he was getting paid to live there, literally. This was his full-time job. The guest house was a detached 1,800 square ft. two-bedroom, one-level house with a private pool. What a life.

The inspection began with the usual exterior measurements. After measuring for about 30 minutes I was relieved to see the front of the house again, at least I thought it was the front of the house. Okay, so just one more 84 ft. wall- and voila, done! Well, almost, just as soon as I measure the dance studio, guest house, movie theater, and the basement.

As I took my first step into the house, I hear a deep voice say, “Excuse me, sir, do you need to go inside?” I wanted to say, no I am just playing that one leg in one leg out game.”  Instead I said, “Yes, if that’s okay?” He said yes but that I couldn’t take any pictures. The owner did not want any photos sold to the paparazzi.

The main house sat on an acre with just over 14,000 ft of gross living area (GLA) – not including the basement, guest house, or dance studio. The interior was designed by the owner, featured imported Italian and French furniture, hand blown glass light fixtures, and a $350,000 fireplace and mantle handmade and imported from France. The house had 9 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms. Each bathroom was designed with a different theme.

This is the “WTF” part of the story. The sale did eventually happen, but for approximately $7,000,000 less than the highest offer and the appraised value. The owner would only sell to someone who did not plan on making changes to the interior.

Mark Buhler

The Surfing Appraiser

Riding the waves of the appraisal profession can result in a range of outcomes and emotions over time. Appraisers, and surfers, have varying levels of

Read More »
Timothy Andersen, MAI, MSc., CDEI, MNAA

“Naked, Unarmed, and Alone?”

Question: “My state board recently charged me with authoring a misleading report. I got the client to write a letter to the state indicating my

Read More »