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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!

I’ve been trying to get a USAA Line of Credit to consolidate some outstanding debt and to buy a new mini-van. I figured that my house, which shows is worth $560,000, would allow me to tap into this equity. I filled out the application on USAA’s website and after some back and forth calls with the processor I’m told that the real estate appraiser has appraised my house at $330,000! It doesn’t matter that houses in my area are selling for nothing less than about $400,000 and that those houses are about 1/3 smaller than my house. It doesn’t matter that I’m sitting on 1/2 acre of land and the other smaller houses are sitting on about 1/4 acre of land. None of that matters. The appraiser claims that I only have a 1700 sq. ft. house with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths.

I went to the county website and pulled up my taxation and assessment record and it shows that I have 2754 sq. ft. of livable space (which doesn’t include the unfinished basement!). I found the original listing for the house back in 2002 when I bought it showing that it has 4 levels (it’s a split-level) with 5 bedrooms and 3 baths. I made all of that information available to this moron of an appraiser and he still claims that a) I only have 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and b) I only have 1700 sq. ft. of livable space. He claims that the other 1000 sq. ft. are “below grade” and therefore not part of the appraised value of the house. Hello!???? I live on a HILL!!! The lower level is only partly (about 30%) below grade and is VERY much livable space with a bedroom and a bath! If I only have 1700 sq. ft. then why is Montgomery County taxing me on 2754 sq. ft. If I only have 3 bedrooms and 2 baths (he’s wrong here as well as I’ve got 4 bedrooms in the upstairs level) then perhaps this idiot should come here and clean my “non-existent” bedroom and bath for me! Or perhaps he can get the county to lower my taxes since 1000 sq. ft. of my home is “not livable” according to his opinion and therefore not part of the value of my house.

The real estate appraisers were willing to appraise any shack at high valuation levels in order to get the loan through. They were willing to help “grease the wheels” of the housing crisis by doing whatever they could to get the loan through and now they’re malpractice has come to fruition. Now they refuse to appraise anything to it’s true value and are willing to screw people — people with good credit like me — in order to “make things right” in their mind. This delinquent appraiser is an idiot and USAA has just lost my business on this loan — and perhaps ALL of my other business as well.

April 2020

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