I made it. I crossed the finish line. The long personal nightmare is over.
I sold my home in Bothell.
It was a great home, a rambler, backed up against a greenbelt in the highly-desired Northshore School District. I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up with all that’s going on in Bothell, but that city is being transformed. I found out at a Bothell Chamber board meeting this week that the new McMenamin’s complex opens up October 15th of this year. With all that’s going on, property values in Bothell are sure to go up.
When I bought my home there, the year was 2006. House prices were escalating and I figured if I didn’t buy now, it wouldn’t be long until I couldn’t afford to live there. So, I locked in the house at $367,000 and settled in.
Without going into details (because you know them all too well), the housing market crashed. When my new wife and I decided we needed a larger house, I tried to sell the Bothell home. However, prices were falling faster than Howie Mandel’s hair.
So, I turned it into a rental. But from the time I started renting it until the last tenant moved out, I was anywhere from $300-$500 under what the mortgage payments were. Each year I hung on, it cost me up to $6,000 to keep it. I rented it for 8 years. Don’t do the math, it’s depressing.
That isn’t to say I didn’t seriously considering doing a short sale—letting the banks take the hit, not me. Sure, my credit would be dismal for a few years, but that would certainly be better than losing all that money.
However, it just wasn’t the right thing to do. I’m no saint, but if there’s a right way to do things, I usually try my best to make it happen. So, I continued to take the beatings, year after year, hoping that someday the market would turn around.
When my last renter gave notice they were leaving at the end of the year, that was the kick in the butt to make a run at selling it. I poured another $6,000 into new carpeting, painting, repairs, etc. Paid to have it landscaped, paid to have it staged…
My efforts paid off! The hot market combined with all the nice touches inspired 30 couples to pass through during that first open house and by the end of the day, I had three offers, two over the asking price. The top bid–$380,000!
This usually is where the theme music builds, the credits start rolling and we all savor a happy ending.
But enter the appraiser from hell, Allan Mankis with Everbank.
If you get an appraisal of the asking price, it’s smooth sailing through the financing seas. If not, there’s trouble. Allan’s appraisal of the house came in at $3,000 less than asking.
The way it works these days (post-housing crash) is that you don’t have any say in who gets selected for the appraisal. Apparently, there were a lot of generous appraisers boosting values of homes that helped fuel the housing price increases.
OK, I get it. We all learned.
But now, there are a few cowboys who feel it’s their job to wrangle prices in. We’ve returned to a seller’s market, where bidding wars occur and values are heading up again.
It would be easy to dismiss my views as being personal and “my opinion.” But here are just some of the facts that Mr. Mankis conveniently ignored:
- Home values and prices were escalating everywhere, not just in my neighborhood.
- Watch the evening news every once and a while and you’ll hear there’s a low inventory out there.
- ‘Comps’ are supposed to be comparisons of similar homes AND recent sales prices.
- The $330K home that was used as a comp was sold LAST AUGUST. Hmmm….do you think house prices have gone up since then?
- A smaller 1248 square foot rambler that sold in the neighborhood last October for $372,000 was mysteriously left out of the appraisal as a comparable. Isn’t that convenient?
- Included in the comparison: a tri-level. So now, tri-levels and ramblers are pretty much equal when making appraisals? Good to know.
- He made comments in the report about the updated windows not adding any value compared with homes who still have their original aluminum windows from the 80’s. Really? New triple-pane windows add no value over the aluminum windows of three decades ago? I must notify the utilities and window manufacturers immediately.
- He also ignored that I had forced-air gas heat, which apparently had no added value over electric baseboard heat. His removal from reality rivals “The Matrix.”
- He included pictures of “Toilet in the hall” and “Bathroom to be repaired”. Ya think? When the inspector noticed some minor water damage (caused by water that splashed out of the shower and NOT a leaky toilet) I went the extra distance and had it over-repaired by a licensed and bonded handyman. Ripped out the old linoleum, installed new, reseated the toilet and $1100 later, the bathroom was like new. It was a two day project and when does the appraiser come? A half hour before the handyman came to make the final repairs on day 2.
- He pointed out a broken board in the deck. It must have happened during one of the open houses. Funny, but the inspector didn’t even mention it when he looked at the house. It was a broken board that someone had punched through. I replaced it, (and had done several hundred dollars’ worth of repairs on that deck as well prior to his visit) but Mr. “I’m going to make this house look as bad as possible” showcased it.
- Comments I heard from several real estate people when I was telling them of this nightmare: “They like to play God.” “He had clear stats that could have easily brought the value to the agreed-on sales price.”
In spite of his negative comments and off-base personal opinions expressed in the appraisal, the buyers and their agent were fine. They knew better. Everyone knew better, which is what drove the price up so high. It is a seller’s market.
Apparently, this appraiser goes to the gas station each week to fill up his vehicle and refuses to accept that the prices have gone up.
His appraisal came in $3,000 less than the $369,000 asking price, which affected the financing and otherwise smooth transaction. This forced me into choosing between lowering the price or putting it back on the market. Mr. Mankis, your under-valued appraisal of that house cost me $3,000.
I am confused why, on your Linkedin profile, you’re listed as a Commercial Review Appraiser. Heaven help any commercial real estate owner who is lucky enough to have you assess their value.
The past 9 years have taken quite an economic toll on me, but I played the game the way it was supposed to be played. Congratulations, Mr. Mankis, you were able to sneak in one last sucker punch before I left the ring.
But remember this—karma always wins.