"Before" picture

"Before" picture

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Some day we'll look back on this and laugh, and that day is today

Winning first prize in the chucklehead category, one real-estate appraiser who somehow failed to notice that looming behind and just off to the right of our house is a bigass garage. Like 14'9" tall and with interior space of 742 square feet. This garage is so large and so noticeable that when we run into people in the neighborhood whom we don't know well and we start explaining where on the block we live, they nod their heads knowingly and say, "Ah, you're the people with The Garage." Yeah, it's hard to miss. But the first-rate appraiser hired by the credit union to assess our property value marked the form thusly:

Garage or carport: None

Wow. You'd almost have to stab yourself in the eye and stick your head in a bucket to pass by our house and overlook the garage.

(And here's a shot from the backyard, with the garage to the left and the house in front of you.)

But instead of increasing our home's value on paper by adding in the worth of our beloved Garage Mahal, said appraiser/chucklehead subtracted thousands of dollars from the estimate because one of the comps has a 1-car attached garage and he thought our house had none.
Ken begged me to let him be the one who gets to call the loan officer tomorrow and point out the mistake. I love him too much to deny him that bit of joy in his life. But how much do I wish I could trail him to work and lurk outside his office while he makes that phone call? Maybe I should make him record it for quality assurance because I am going to be in agony until I hear how it went down.

Of course, we'd already reconfigured our money-borrowing plan to fit the unexpected strictures their initial appraisal had landed on us, but with this new piece of information--the presence of a garage that's half the size of our house--we're guessing they could bump up the appraised value of our home just a tad. All the better for us since we'd like to stay in the sweet spot of having the lowest possible interest rate on the new loan.

While Ken is at work tomorrow having all sorts of fun at the credit union's expense, I'll be taking a personal day to keep purging our house of unwanted items and reorganizing the possessions that earn the right to remain. It's not fun exactly; I wouldn't use that word. But I definitely feel productive when I tackle a room, chuck a third of its contents, and box up another third for an upcoming yard sale (not ours; a friend of mine has generously offered to have our stuff plopped on her lawn in a couple weekends).

In fact, with the progress I've made to this point, the house feels bigger already. Almost as spacious as that garage out back.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Drive-by Appraisal

We supplied our credit union with all that fun paperwork prior to the April 19th deadline and have been (im)patiently waiting ever since for them to conduct their title search and do an appraisal to back up our layperson's estimate of what our house and property are worth.

Today we got our answer. Let's do a little math, shall we? A realtor friend of ours estimated the market value of our home as X. To be conservative, we estimated our home's value at 10% less than X. The lender's appraiser calculated the value at 24% less than X. There is a big difference of opinion there, wouldn't you say? Of course, the only one that matters is the official appraiser's because he or she was hired by the credit union and that's the data they care about.

We've requested the appraiser's report, which should arrive by mail tomorrow or Monday, so we can see exactly what elements of the home and property were taken into account--what were the positive features? what were the detractors? We know our house is not perfect by any means, or we wouldn't want to remodel it, would we? But the .76X value that came back from the appraiser is the approximate sale prices of a home around the corner that had to be gutted when the new owners bought it a year ago. Our house is a bit cluttered (OK, a lot cluttered), and the dog's toenails have dug little paths into the hardwood floors in spots, but it doesn't exactly need to be gutted or we wouldn't be living here.

So we'll see what the report says and go from there. If they won't budge on their appraisal value, we'll reconfigure our project to fit the new financial situation, but it'd sure be nice to just be able to tackle the whole shebang and get it over with. I'm glad this drive-by wasn't of the shooting variety, but it sure was shocking nonetheless.