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So USAA sent out a real estate appraiser to actually take a look at the house on Monday. I finally received a copy of the report from him and his estimate is that my house is only worth $380,000 which is outright ludicrous. Yes he gets the square footage nearly right but he uses as comps houses that are 400 – 600 sq. ft. smaller than mine and whose property sizes are also half of mine. He gets the room count incorrect — this idiot says that I’ve got a 4 bedroom house when I have a 5 bedroom house but at least he’s got the number of bathrooms right — 3 rather than the 2 that the other moronic appraiser said. This is absolute bullshit…I know of a house that sold just 3 weeks ago that has about 800 sq. ft. less than I do that sold for $450,000. On top of that I have a friend who had his house (the same as the one that just sold 3 weeks ago) appraised last October (during the whole financial meltdown) for also around $450,000. I also know of a house that is around the corner which is also smaller than mine which, as I understand it is under contract for $425,000 — and it’s not in as good a condition as mine and hasn’t been upgraded as I’ve done with mine.

In essence this appraiser, like the other one, is just plain wrong. I’ve had a real estate agent (who built her career on houses in this area) who says that my house is definitely worth more and, depending on the condition, may well be worth closer to my estimate of $550,000 (as determined from zillow.com). This is absolute bullshit. Looks like USAA may have just lost all of my business.

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Just got a call from USAA this morning. They want to do a full appraisal of my house (which they will pay for) in order to find out if it’s really 4 levels (which it is – a split level downstairs, mid-level, upstairs and a basement) as opposed to a 2 level which the appraiser is claiming. I did a little digging around and looked up my square footage according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. Using their Real Property Search tool I verified the square footage (or what they call “Enclosed Area”) as 2754 sq. ft. On top of that their definition of “Enclosed Area” is

Generally, for residential property, the enclosed area of the dwelling above ground level. The calculation excludes the area of the basement (if any) even if it is finished. For commercial property, this is usually the total area in square feet of the building(s) excluding parking structures and out-buildings.

Now, why Montgomery County has it in their tax card that my house is 1700 sq. ft. I don’t honestly know. But the appraiser is doggedly sticking by his story. What’s sad is that I have a friend who is about 4/10 of a mile from my house who has a 1300 sq. ft. house which he re-financed last October through USAA and the appraisal (which he has a copy of) came out at $443,000! Also, a house sold just two weeks ago about 9/10 of a mile from mine (it’s the same model as my friends — a split foyer style) for $450,000! So even if the appraiser says that my house has only 1700 sq. ft. how can he justify appraising my house at $330,000 when smaller homes less than a mile from me are appraising for and selling for about $450,000? This guy needs to find another line of work because as an appraiser he obviously stinks!

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