The Appraisal

It was nearly a year ago when our landlords contacted my husband about our upcoming end to our lease last August.  They were naturally curious as to our plans, would they be able to keep us in their home a bit longer, or did they need to start looking for replacements.  We had decided, after conducting a bit of house shopping that perhaps this was the house we wanted to purchase.  It needed serious updating, it needs expansions, but so did most of the houses in our neighborhood.  The lot though is perfect, it’s huge, big enough that if we ever decided to install a pool there would still be plenty of room to keep a yard for the kids to play.  We are close to downtown, like two blocks; our neighborhood is quiet and nice.  We are also connected to a natural preserve, so there are nearby hiking trails, an added bonus is the unique wildlife that roams in our backyard.

The drawbacks are the lack of sidewalks.  Another is the strange parking situation.  The road in front of us is not two lane but one, because we are the side road for thru traffic entering the neighborhood.  the driveway has a slant that is terrifying to our guests, leaving us with no real options but around the corner for our company to park.  Keely’s first birthday ended with a crash as one guest pulling out of the neighbor’s drive with his Ford pick up creamed the small Honda Civic across the street.  Naturally one of the big modifications to be done to the house would have to be leveling out the front yard then installing a rainbow drive.

Josh explained to the landlords that our hopes would be to purchase this house, but the price had to be negotiable considering all the improvements we would have to also invest in.  So the landlords offered the price of 300, but then wavering that perhaps they were not asking enough considering many of the houses in the neighborhood are going for north of the 600k range, decided an appraiser should be called.  They gave the number of someone local who was famous for sympathizing with the buyer, because let’s face it they can’t wait to get out from under this money pit they purchased in 2012.

Josh put off calling the appraiser, scared the results would just be a waste of time.  So months passed before our neighbors who live two houses over put their home up on the market.   We looked at the price, they were only asking 350; our faces lit with hope.  There house was in far better shape then ours, it was a middle aged couple with no kids.  Josh made an immediate call to the appraisal company while still staring down at the flyer for our neighbor’s home.

Fourth of July weekend the appraiser arrived, a kindred nerd like Josh with stickers of star wars characters lining the back window of his Prius.  I was a bundle of nerves, I had spent days perfecting the house for his grand arrival.  Despite all of my efforts the house was still a wreck, I take one step forward then my gremlin daughters take two steps back.  He had Josh accompany him around the house while I hid to give them space.

Before he had arrived Josh obsessed over the worth of our uneven lot.   We are living on real estate gold when it comes to Huntsville, AL.  I assured him that there were several issues that would be addressed with an appraisal, “the house is so out of date, our bathroom is so tiny, our kitchen lacks in storage…”

He rolled his eyes in mild annoyance, “That’s not the kind of thing they look for.”

The difference between mine and my husband’s experience with appraisers greatly differs.  He works with commercial real estate, while I am an HGTV enthusiast.  I obviously hold the superior expertise on the matter, but I bit my tongue.

The entire walk through of the house was complete when the appraiser stopped to ask us some questions.  We tried to answer them as fairly and honestly as possible.  “Have you had any trouble with plumbing?
Josh paused to look at me.  The appraiser noticed our glances.  I started, “well we have to have a plumber come at least once or twice a year.  There are several drains that are consistently backed up, but we don’t call the plumber unless there is an explosion.”

He looked down as he took a few notes, “and the septic?”

“What do you mean?”

“Where does your sewage go?”

I began to laugh hysterically, “Josh, isn’t that that big hole in the back yard?”

Josh began to chuckle, “yes, Jess didn’t know what it was; was concerned it was from a snake, but I let her know that was just the sewage.”

The man nodded his pace of writing increased, I felt guilty I didn’t want to come off as complaining.  I didn’t realize that was something worth taking note over.

“I noticed you’re electrical is at least 50 years old, your circuit breaker is already not large enough to handle the amount of house you have already.  There have been unsanctioned expansions done on the house that have made for an over-demand of power.  To expand this house will be much more the overhaul than normal.  You will not only have to add to your circuit breaker but completely trash it to update with a new one.  That should actually be done right now, you are living in a fire hazard.  The hole needs to be covered, that’s not within city compliance.”

Within a week we received the results, we sat together nervously as he opened the email.  Josh was hoping for 350 or less, I was hoping for 300.  The miracle dream would be 250.   We opened the email leaving our jaws to drop, 208.

We contacted our landlords, who offered really no reaction outside of asking for a copy of the appraisal.  We were a little hesitant considering under the plumbing he recorded that the residents had complained.  We hoped that would not come off as if we were following him around whispering negativity in his ear for our own gain.

It’s now been nearly three months since we sent that email.  We still have not heard back from them.  We have no signed lease, we have no directions as to if it will be open to purchase.  I, at first, thought that perhaps they were calling for a new appraiser they could be present for.  Then I thought perhaps they are calling around and saving up to replace the electrical themselves. I would be happiest with the latter, one less thing for us to do.  Though knowing what we know now there is the concern as to whether or not it would just be easier to bull doze the house and just start over, or do we even want the hassle?

It’s so awkward, surely they will call back eventually right?  I mean, we are here without a contract, a little communication would be nice.   My biggest fear is perhaps they list the house for a higher price without discussing it with us.  Opening our home to be visited all hours of the day unannounced or with little notice for home walkthroughs from potential buyers.  Meanwhile leaving us in a lurch, when honestly we were just trying to play it so cool.

And feel free to stop by for the challenge:



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