Fox in the Hen House Appraisal

by captain

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?