Sorry for the poor quality of the photo on the right, but that's an early morning photo of a blank wall - yes, you read that correctly, a blank wall - that the VA recently required in order for my Buyer clients' mortgage to go forward.
So, it was shot with a phone very begrudgingly by a most unhappy Seller who had had enough of the VA and its requests and then text messaged to his agent, who sent it on to me.
It all started with a particularly bad VA appraisal. An appraisal that could have been done by a 6th grader; after all, the SAME floor plan (but more than 200 feet smaller and without many of the upgrades) in the SAME neighborhood had just sold in the SAME month. Piece of cake, right?
Ah, apparently not. The VA appraiser decided he would derive his comps not from the same neighborhood or even the same zip code, no, not even from the same town, but rather, would venture farther out to see just how off he could get with his appraisal.
Well, when the appraisal came back appallingly low - low enough the transaction would have been derailed - everyone was up in the arms and let's just say, after a great deal of work and knashing of teeth, the lender was able to get the appraisal re-evaluated and the value raised to where it should have been. Or, rather, close enough so that the transaction could continue.
We all breathed a sigh of relief, although it appears we were premature in that relief.
Seems the appraiser was not done with us yet and didn't appreciate being called out as incompetent.
The next thing we know, he is calling for "an inspection of the fireplace."
Ah, just one problem - there was no fireplace. There was an electric "fireplace" which is, essentially, a giant space heater with a mantle.
So, we explained that to the lender and thought that was the end of it. Of course, it wasn't, so the home inspector wrote a letter explaining it was a "faux fireplace." Not a fireplace at all and of course, there was no chimney.
We didn't hear anything else about it until a couple of days prior to closing, when the VA asked for a photo of the faux fireplace, showing the electrical cord and outlet into which it was plugged.
No, no, you cannot make this $%^^ up.
After apologizing to my lender for my language, I shook my head and called the listing agent. Due to a whole list of other problems caused by the VA appraiser (I'm saving those for yet another post), the Sellers were just about done hearing from us and tensions were very high.
The fireplace was already gone, they said, since it was not even conveying with the house.
So, the Sellers wrote us a letter saying the faux fireplace was already gone, moved, no longer in the house.
Suficient, I asked? NO, of course it wasn't.
They wanted PROOF IT WAS GONE.
More apologies for my language to everyone around me as I asked, "What? Do they want a picture of the empty wall?"
Yes, yes, they did. They wanted a photo of where the faux fireplace USED to be.
A few minutes later the sellers sent over the photo above of the blank wall.
Look, I said, you can even see the INDENTATION where the faux fireplace used to sit. Thankfully they had not vacuumed yet!
One thing you can say about this business is just when you think you have seen it all, you realize you haven't.
Now I can say I have had the distinct (dis)pleasure of proving something that never existed did not, in fact, exist. Say that three times fast!