FAQ #19: What Are Some Of The Craziest Things You’ve Heard As An Appraiser?
May 26, 2023
Ryan Bays, SRA, AI-RRS
I'm a husband, a father to six girls, and an SRA & AI-RRS designated real estate appraiser at Riverfront Appraisals, LLC with offices in Owensboro, Kentucky and Tell City, Indiana.
I feel like we all need a laugh. How about you? It seems like everywhere you turn all you read about or hear about is negative. Or heavy. Or sad. So with this post, I’m switching gears and I’m answering the question I get a ton from various friends. It usually comes up at a dinner party or some other social outing. “So tell me about he craziest thing you’ve seen at a house.” Or, “what are some of the strangest things you’ve heard?” That’s where we’re headed. Now, it won’t be all fun and laughs, because if you know me, you know I love to teach and to help folks learn more about the appraisal process. So at the end, there will be a bit of a lesson. Something we can all learn from. Ok. Here we go.
“Don’t go in that room. My son’s sleeping in there.”
So this happens way too much. Even after doing probably a hundred appraisals of homes where someone is sleeping, I’m still absolutely floored each time it happens. I just don’t understand it. I mean, why on earth would you be in bed when an appraiser is coming to your house to look at your rooms, and take pictures and measurements? I don’t get it! I know there will be some who simply don’t understand what is going on. And I know not everyone speaks the ‘appraiser’ language, but come on. Is this not a no-brainer?
It happened to me just last week. I had to call a home owner on my way to the home, presumably for her to meet me there. But it turned out her mother was the one who was meeting me. I heard dogs inside the home, so I thought that’s why she’s coming to meet me. Nope. She was meeting me there because the owner’s boyfriend was asleep in bed! And here’s the worst part – he’s a cop!
So the mom lets me in, and takes the dogs out. That means it’s just me inside this house, doing my inspection, while a police officer is asleep in one of the bedrooms, probably 100% unaware that I’m even in the home. What if he woke up? A cop isn’t exactly the type of person I’d like to wake up. I don’t know about you.
Here’s another one. This may rank as the funniest/strangest/worst thing a Realtor has ever said to me (or texted in this case). And again, it’s about someone sleeping.
I show up to a home I’m appraising in town and no car is in the driveway, but there’s a garage. Maybe someone’s home – maybe not. But there is a large, very aggressive German Shepherd in the side yard that will most certainly have me for a mid-morning snack if I get too close. The door is unlocked, and there are boots on the living room floor, just inside the door. I go through the doorway, and yell “Appraiser!” as loudly as I can. Multiple times. I proceed down the hall, and hear from behind a bedroom door, a fan running. At this point, my Spidey senses are on full alert, and I’m just not feeling right. There’s got to be someone behind one of these bedroom doors asleep.
So I go outside and text the listing agent and tell her what’s going on. She says that it’s probably fine, and that the owner sometimes lets people stay there overnight (not a good sign). I then proceed to tell her that if someone’s in the home, sleeping, I’ll have to reschedule. Here was her response:
Wake them up.
Wake them up??? Are you kidding me?
And so, against my better judgment, I went back in the house, and opened up all the doors. Thankfully, no one was sleeping in the house and it was empty (I know, that’s kind of anti-climactic, isn’t it?). But if someone had been sleeping, there’s not enough money in the world you could have paid me to rouse someone up from their slumber to tell them “Hi, Mr. Stranger. You don’t know me, and probably didn’t know I was coming. But I’m an appraiser, and I need to photograph this room, so could you kindly get up and get out of bed? Thanks so much.”
In the words of President Bush… Not gonna… yeah you know.
So that got me thinking. Would this Realtor have done what she was asking me to do? I polled a large group of Realtors and every single one of them said, “No, that’s not my job. I’m getting the heck out of that house.”
Funny, the things we’re asked to do sometimes.
Ok. On to lesson time.
Get out of bed.
Enough? Too harsh?
Seriously, though. I want to show grace here, and I do get the fact that not everyone really understands that someone will be coming into their home, measuring, and photographing all the areas of the house. So part of this is for you. But for the rest of you who do know that, and to the Realtors who communicate with their homeowners, here’s a refresher.
Pretty much every residential appraisal now must have photographs of all areas of the house – inside and out. This includes living rooms, kitchen, all bathrooms and bedrooms. Additionally, if the appraiser couldn’t obtain measurements from the exterior, they’ll need to take measurements from the interior (i.e. on the upper level or basement). So it would be so much easier if everyone was out of bed while the appraiser was there.
For the times when the husband just worked off his night shift and is sleeping during my 9:00 am appointment, I just have to work around him. But it’s weird. It’s uncomfortable. It’s invading his privacy. But it’s also required. So what I do is I ask someone else who is awake to go into the room with me while I inspect the room and take photos. I then take an angled photo (usually not a very good one) that doesn’t include any part of the person sleeping. Then, I show my phone or iPad to the other person, so that they can tell I haven’t taken a photo of their loved one asleep. This is especially important if the person sleeping is a child or young person. No, none of that is a requirement, but I think it’s courteous and respectful if the appraiser does it.
I remember one time several years ago I was appraising a manufactured home out in the middle of nowhere. I knocked on the door, rang the doorbell, and yelled when I opened the door. No one was supposed to be home, but when I opened the door, I could see into the primary bedroom, and that door was open. It was early morning, and the sun was shining just right so that a little sliver of sunlight came through the open door and landed square on a very large bald head. And that bald head belonged to a man who was in bed sleeping.
What did I do? I quickly and quietly backed up, and left the house! I called the listing agent, and come to find out, the owner let his cousin crash there for the night, but forgot to tell him the appraiser was coming in the morning!
One more funny story about people sleeping. Or maybe not funny. Maybe creepy.
I was appraising a home and the homeowner said, “Oh don’t go in that bedroom. My son’s sleeping.” This was fairly early on in my career, so I didn’t know how exactly to respond. I just nodded and went on with my inspection. But I still needed a picture of that room. So I circled back to her when I got done with everything else. Here’s how that conversation went:
“Ma’am, I hate to bother you or your son, but I do need to get a picture of that room. Do you think it’s ok if I slip in and quietly take a photograph and try not to wake him up?”
“Oh, he actually died last year”
(Now, at this point, I’m praying “Lord, please don’t let there be a dead body in this room!”
“I just haven’t been able to go into his room since he passed away” she proceeded. “His spirit is still sleeping in there, though.”
And with that I just said, “Ok, thanks, that’ll be ok.” And I walked out.
Can you imagine?!
I mean, I want to be 100% respectful here, and say that her loss was real, and terrible, and I hate it. I just wish she would have led with that part of the story!!
So the moral of the story is simple. Get up, get out of bed, get your kids up and out of bed, and get everyone dressed. The appraisal doesn’t take that long, so if you want to go back to sleep after the appraiser’s gone, go ahead! And if you’re a Realtor, advise your seller to do the same. Because there might be some who are willing to ‘wake them up’, but I’m not one of them.