It’s always a crazy time around the holidays with the endless shopping trips, countless dinners, and the never-ending travel on the highway. Holidays are also the time where families come together and share their wild stories from the year. Well, we want to hear your stories! We are asking for submissions on your wildest appraisal story, and you could be featured in the next Appraisal Buzz Magazine.
This article was first published in the Appraisal Buzz Magazine. If you have shared a story with us in the past that was never published, please resend it. Post your stories below or send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where There’s Smoke…
I had to appraise one-half of a two-story duplex that was a second home/rental. The property manager said they would arrive early to unlock the residence, turn lights on, open blinds, and take care of some of their duties at the same time. This sounded like a perfect, streamlined inspection. I met the manager at the house, and she said she was almost done cleaning the fireplace upstairs and would leave soon – I just had to call her when I finished so she could close everything up. I began on the exterior and moved to the first floor of the interior when the manager left. I noticed a faint smell of smoke at some point but didn’t give it much thought because of said fireplace cleaning. I made my way to the second level of the reverse-floor plan unit and started with the kitchen. The smell of smoke was much stronger, but again, I didn’t give it much thought and continued with my head down, taking notes. When I noticed a little atmosphere in the room I (finally) realized something was wrong. I quickly located the source of the smoke cloud, which was now growing rapidly. A blanket on an upper shelf in a closet was smoldering, covered in red embers, and the first tiny flames were spreading rapidly because it was touching a bare, hot lightbulb. The manager had turned the light on, and it took probably 20 – 30 minutes to ignite.
In my panicky state, I somehow rationalized a solution that involved throwing the blanket off the second-floor deck onto the snow below. As I watched the blanket unfold mid-flight, the first real flames began to spread, but sizzled when it contacted the snow. After verifying there was no more fire threat, inside or out, I had to open windows and let the air clear to finish taking my photos. The property manager was relieved that no damage other than a torched blanket occurred. In hindsight, I’ve run through several possible scenarios where it could have gone much worse, e.g., what if I was upstairs and the fire was downstairs, what if the subject or entire duplex burned down–that would surely make the newspaper with a headline: “Appraiser Burns House Down”
The Time-of-Day Matters
In the mid 80s, I was appraising a home in Roswell, GA, in a large subdivision of fairly nice homes. It was mid-afternoon while I began taking comparable photos. Lots of parents gathered at corners waiting on the school bus. I noticed I was getting a lot of attention as I drove past, so I smiled and waved. At the last house I was photographing, I was stopped by the curb and putting my camera away when I was startled by a little girl staring in the driver side window. Then I noticed a panicked looking Mom running towards us! She swooped up the child and backed away from the car. I turned around to head out and told the Mom I was an appraiser taking photos in the neighborhood and apologized if I had scared her. I left the neighborhood and headed home.
Several days later, I got a call from the Roswell PD asking me if I had been in that neighborhood on that particular day and to come in and answer a few questions about some complaints from the residents. I brought my file and photo negatives as requested. I told them what I had been doing, what streets I had been on, and what houses I had photographed. I also told them I had apologized to the lady I had obviously scared. Evidently, they had received several calls during my “visit” that day. I found out that if I had been there five minutes longer, the police would have stopped me and brought me in for questioning.
Then they showed me an article in the local newspaper about a young boy reporting an attempted kidnapping by a man driving a car that matched what I was driving. I noted that the kid said he got away by tripping the guy chasing him. How do you trip somebody chasing you?
For several days on the Atlanta TV news broadcasts, this was the leading story. Several days later, I got a call from the officer informing me that the boy admitted to making up the story. Ever since, I have tried my best to not be taking photos during school bus times.
Restraining Orders & Appraisals – Never a Great Mix
The majority of my appraisal work is on divorces and estates, both of which have their fair share of crazy stories.
I was appraising a home for a divorce several years ago. The husband had contacted me for the appraisal, but it was the wife who was living in the home. We met at 9:30 am, which was an odd time that he requested. When I arrived at the home, he said that she wasn’t home and had locked all the doors, so he called a locksmith to come to open the back door. The locksmith arrived shortly and started to work on the backdoor. The husband said that his wife was aware of the appraisal appointment and should have left the home unlocked.
I started on the outside and about ten minutes later, a woman comes to the backyard where the husband, myself, and the locksmith were and starts yelling at the husband about him not being allowed to be there. I thought it was the wife, but it turned out to be a neighbor. The wife was at an appointment which is why, I figured out, that he wanted the appointment at 9:30 am rather than 10:00 am. After several minutes of the husband and neighbor yelling at each other, the locksmith got the back door open. The neighbor left and we went inside. The husband was showing me around when suddenly the wife and neighbor show up and the three of them get into a heated argument about the husband not being supposed to be there. It was starting to get ugly when the cops busted in. They immediately told everyone to get out of the house and handcuffed the husband right there in the kitchen!
Turns out the wife had a restraining order against the husband! He was never supposed to be there. I waited in my vehicle while the police sorted things out. One police officer came over to me to ask who I was. I told him I’m the appraiser and he said to just wait. After about ten minutes, the police officer came back over and said the wife will let me finish the appraisal appointment. That was one crazy and exciting morning!
We are asking for submissions on your wildest appraisal story, and you could be featured in the next Appraisal Buzz Magazine. Post your stories below or send your stories to email@example.com.