Fox in the Hen House Appraisal

I know I harbor a fair amount of paranoia. So when I first started looking for a house in Athens, trying to figure out how some of the houses were appraising where they were, I asked myself, “could the appraisers somehow be colluding with the Realtors and builders?” Then I said to myself, “no, that’s stupid. What is the motivation? Where is the angle? What is the grift?” I stopped thinking about it because I gave up looking. But I’ve bought a house now in a different town, and I’ll be moving in a couple weeks. Fortunately, the house I’m living in sold, which means I get out of a month’s rent. That’s great, but as an extra parting gift, I was given the appraiser. The owner and I were in the house while the appraiser did his thing. At the end, we had a conversation. The appraiser had many interesting items to share, like, “appraisers were no more than 2% to blame for the housing crisis,” “I don’t work with big banks because [some mind-bending complaint about regulations],” and “it’s difficult to keep your finger on the pulse of the values in the Boulevard neighborhood.” The owner and I glanced across the room at each other. Do tell. “Yeah, I have to talk with my Realtor friend once a week just to keep up with what’s going on.” What? Did you just say that? I have clearly gone insane because no one would be dumb enough to say that out loud. But, upon catching the raised eyebrow of the owner, I knew someone was, in fact, that dumb. Now, I still don’t understand the angle, but I know that at least one appraiser is getting his cues from a Realtor. Maybe it’s not so insane. We live in a country that believes that allowing financial institution to regulate themselves is a workable solution to bank fraud. But, either way, the best part of this appraiser’s story is who he told us his Realtor friend was: Michael Littleton. As a side note, during Littleton’s response to my post, he for some reason wanted to make it clear that “this is the only ‘lot’ that either my wife [sic] have ever bought, and I have lived in Athens for 5 decades.” First, I know someone who is living in a house built on a lot that was owned by Littleton and his wife and sold to Grant Cashin. Second, according to his bio at Full Circle Realty, Littleton has lived in Athens for 31 years. I only bring this up because he offered this irrelevant information, but failed to provide it accurately. Why would someone do that?

Crying to Pete McCommons

So, one mystery has been solved. I heard about this a while back, but it was from one source. I’ve added a second independent source, so I’m comfortable reprinting it. The reason the posts were taken down, apparently, is that Juliana Schumacher went to Pete McCommons’s (the editor of the Flagpole) house and cried to (source one) or yelled at (source two) Pete about the thread. After this confrontation, the post was taken down (passive voice because I don’t know who did it). And more importantly, it led to the closing of comments on all articles indefinitely. Chalk one up for cronyism? Or for not having the legal budget to fight a frivolous lawsuit? Note: for the purposes of the impending lawsuits, those last two comments are pure conjecture on my part.

Conflict of Interest

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “conflict of interest” as “A conflict between a person’s private interests and public obligations.” conflict of interest. (2007). In The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language. Retrieved from http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/conflict_of_interest.

First

Welcome to Shadytown. In October, The Flagpole published an article by local firebrand Melissa Link. The article inspired a number of negative comments. One comment caught my attention because I recognized the author’s writing style. What bothered me the most was that the author was a Realtor, but he failed to mention that fact. Why is that important? Because the article was about whether the Buena Vista Neighborhood should be designated a historic district. Realtors have a built-in financial conflict of interest when it comes to government action over land. It’s always like asking a cow whether you should eat at Burger King or Chick-fil-a (assuming the cow isn’t gay). Having encountered this Realtor’s unique style in the past, I made the poor decision to troll him. Specifically, Melissa made reference to a “shell game” of real estate transactions among developers, Realtors, and land investors. This very angry Realtor challenged her to give examples of this alleged shell game. Well, that’s when I offered one. I chose one of his (technically his wife’s) Hendrix lots. Now, I can’t take all the credit for the public meltdown that ensued, but I definitely added a little fuel. So, childish trolling aside, the comments ended up all over the place, addressing libel, the merits of capitalism, the investment habits of this Realtor and his wife, and some really over-the-top paranoia. So I created this blog as a place to discuss the shady business of real estate, particularly in Athens, but also in general. I’ll address each of the issues raised in the comments in no particular order. I encourage you to participate in the conversation in the comments, or, if you are so inclined, by submitting a guest post. Enjoy, and please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at captain@shadytown.org.