Faux. Fake. False. Not there!

Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 0225085927

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! 


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers 06/25/2016 10:37 PM
  2. Rain Silverhawk 06/25/2016 11:41 PM
Home Buying
Bartender, Make it a Double
Old Farts Club
horrible va experience
incompetent va appraiser

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Jana Holmstrup
Jana Holmstrup - VP Ops - Kings Mortgage Services, Inc. - Visalia, CA

Thank you for your 'faux' patience in assisting this Veteran 

Jun 27, 2016 11:17 AM #42
Melissa Spittel
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Westminster, MD
"Achieving Results Together "

Oh my, I'm trying not to laugh at such craziness! You sure are patient. Thanks for sharing.

Jun 27, 2016 11:32 AM #43
Yolanda Cordova-Gilbert
Sitterle Homes - Richmond, TX
Sitterle Homes


 I tell people to be nice to appraiser because they can crush you! Have a great day!

Jun 27, 2016 11:36 AM #44
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Susan,

Thank you for the comic relief! Sounds so familiar. Maybe that appraiser was not very experienced.

Jun 27, 2016 03:11 PM #45
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Susan, you are to be commended for sticking with the process and getting the transaction to closing. We do not always have an easy flow of things, but what counts is taking care of the consumer.

Great post.

Jun 27, 2016 08:36 PM #47
Dan Harstine
Century21 Integrity Real Estate Group - Warsaw, IN
Warsaw, In Real Estate Residential, Lake, Commerci

I have had similar experiences.  Recently had a closing held up  for 10 days for a doorbell.  The  older house didn't have a door bell and knocking was apparently not suffcient for this apprasier.  Of course then she had to return for a follow up inspection at an additional cost of $100 to verify that the seller had spent 8.99 to put in a wireless door bell.

The Indiana Supreme Court recently ruled that the appraiser really doesn't have any accountability to anyone except the bank and it is merely an opinion.  Now if we can have the banks grasp that concept

Jun 28, 2016 02:12 AM #48
Susan McCall, Everyone needs a home
Compass Realty Solutions, Portland, OR & Vancouver, WA - Portland, OR
Quickly, professionally and with a little fun!

My favorite VA appraiser drove up in a taxi.  He walked into the house - perhaps 15 feet.  He turned around, said thanks, and walked out and got in his taxi and drove off.  Perhaps this was multi tasking?

Jun 28, 2016 02:41 AM #49
Lola Walker, KW St Pete Realty

Another Smooth transaction. Whatever that means! I have lowered my expectations for a "smooth" transaction and pray for a "closed" transaction. Thanks for sharing this story.

Jun 28, 2016 05:09 AM #50
Margaret Kapranos
Zephyr Real Estate - Greenbrae, CA
Matching Marin Sellers to Buyers! 415-608-5070

wowsa.  Scary stuff. Glad you were able to salvage the sale.

Jun 28, 2016 07:49 AM #51
Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert
Zion Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Broker/Owner of Zion Realty ZionRealtyAZ.com

Lenders and their ridiculous requests can drive you absolutely crazy mad sometimes! But, requesting a picture of a blank wall is a new one for me. 

Jun 29, 2016 01:52 AM #52
Theresa Akin

i'm sure this is on your agenda in contacting his appraisal board. I called about an appraisal and all I asked was how they determine the life of a property. "Read my words was in a reply to  the lender. They tried to say I asked the appraiser to alter/edit that part of the appraisal. No I asked how they determined the difference of 5 years. Just happy I had it all in writing in my email. As I know you will, keep in writing. Good Luck. Ps. I also asked the appraiser his resoning to compare with another county, 2 counties over.


Jun 29, 2016 04:48 AM #53
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Wow!  That was certainly the craziest thing I have ever heard!  Good for you for hanging in there for your clients.  Faux fireplace and all!

Jul 01, 2016 05:24 AM #54
Patricia Feager
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Susan Haughton - I came to read more comments. The one that startled me was from Dan Harstine -  "The Indiana Supreme Court recently ruled that the appraiser really doesn't have any accountability to anyone except the bank and it is merely an opinion. "

Seriously, It took the Indiana Supreme Court to making that ruling? According to the last MCE I took, the newest one offered in my area by NAR, "Pricing Strategies: Mastering the CMA," the definition of an Appraiser is "A person who possesses the education, training, and experience necessary to accurately render an opinion as to the value of real estate." Based on this definition, that Appraiser in question in your experience lacks "Education, training, and experience to accurately render an opion  as to the value of real estate!"

Jul 03, 2016 02:32 AM #55
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Hi Susan, these type of events can test your patience, glad you were able to take it to closing, how many transactions fall apart due to appraisals that are done poorly.

Jul 03, 2016 08:03 AM #56
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Perry Wellington Realty, Adam Conrad, Broker - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Susan, that is just plain crazy.

Happy July 4th Wishing you and your family a safe and happy July 4th.

Jul 04, 2016 12:56 AM #57
Kimo Stowell
HI Pro Realty LLC RB-21531 - Honolulu, HI
REALTOR Associate® RS-76763 - Honolulu Hawai'i

Aloha Susan, a "home inspector" that can't tell the difference between a space heater and a fireplace is a fraud. Sorry to hear of the nonsense being generated by incompetence it seems to be happening more and more these days.

Jul 04, 2016 05:39 AM #58
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Oh there is just no excuse for that kind of poor job. I think the appraiser was trying to make it so hard on you all that the deal would go south. He should be reprimanded.

Jul 04, 2016 08:14 AM #59
Sheila Newton Team Anderson & Greenville SC
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - C. Dan Joyner - Anderson, SC
Selling the Upstate since 1989

one thing for sure, you never know what your day will be like in this business.. I have so many crazy issues lately, it really seems to help to at least know i am not alone.. we all are having crazy stuff going on... :)

A really think appraisers have WAY too much authority.. they are just giving their opinion after all ( and their opinion is not always a good one).. They really seem to get on a power trip sometimes!! There should be some kind of rules against this or some way to fight it.. but i sure don't know of a way!

Jul 11, 2016 01:28 PM #60
Lesley Wilson-VanGoethem
Innovative Realty Solutions Group - Winter Springs, FL
Residential Real Estate Broker Associate

You cant make these things up!

Too bad the sellers didnt have a pic of the fireplace in the back of the moving truck! LOL


Jul 11, 2016 11:22 PM #61
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.AtHomesCharlotte.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Oh, you have got to be kidding me?!  How crazy is that?!  We had a VA inspector once who said there wasn't a 'chimney' for the fireplace.  I snapped a picture of the EXTERIOR of the home with the fireplace VENT on the backside of the fireplace!  They didn't believe me so, they made the inspector go back out to confirm.  I said the same thing - you just can't make this stuff up!

Sep 11, 2016 01:51 PM #62
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Susan Haughton

Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.
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