Home cookin’ … everyone loves a little comforting refreshment from the home now and then (unless it’s my home and then, trust me on this, you do NOT want to eat anything I have attempted to cook).

Although my own mom wasn’t an amazing cook (she was too busy trying to provide a living for nine children), my grandpa was. He was captain of the #7 fire station in Salt Lake City. Most firefighters are great cooks. My grandpa, when on shift, would spend both days and nights at the station and in their downtime, they would cook. My favorite was his roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. He would pull it out of the oven and bring it to the table always mumbling the qualifier, “this is terrible.” It was always delicious.

While home cookin’ may be great for roast beef, it’s not so great for a small-town appraisal. Several weeks ago, I was approached by a client who has been attempting to work out the details of a bad divorce. His case was actually sent to trial. The shared assets in this particular case were extensive and accumulated over several years. One of those assets was a home.

As part of the preparation for the trial, my client’s attorney asked him to get a formal appraisal on the home. Since the home was currently being lived in by the respondent, and not my client, he was apprehensive about trying to get an appraiser in the home to valuate it. The home was also located in this small town where the trial would take place, since that is where the initial divorce was filed.

Both myself and my client’s attorney advised him to locate a trusted professional that was local to the small town to get a referral for the appraisal. He did so. The appraiser was contacted, and it was ordered. She assured us that she wouldn’t have to go inside the home to do the appraisal so the current occupant wouldn’t have to have knowledge of it at all. He apprised her of the most recent additions and updates, and she acknowledged and took the job.

A full seven weeks later, two weeks before the trial, he had still not received the appraisal. Every time he reached out, he was assured that it was almost complete. The appraiser had informed him that the current resident had approached her while she was taking exterior pictures and told her to get off the property. She complied but had gotten what she needed.

When my client informed me that he hadn’t received the appraisal, I suspected there was a deliberate stall. Now I’m not a conspiracy theorist by a long shot, but something was not smelling right in this kitchen. If the appraisal was inaccurate, for some inexplicable reason, there would be no time now to get a new appraisal. Interesting.

He finally received it, 10 days before trial. As suspected, it was a bad appraisal.

She had used comparisons from a full two years ago, had included three active listings that were clearly not like properties, and had included two other sold listings that were obvious fixer uppers. I immediately pulled comparisons to see if there was just nothing available to pull from. There was plenty. Since it was too late to get a new appraisal, I provided a current market analysis and they decided not to submit the appraisal as evidence. I easily pulled a value over $80,000 above the appraisal, using current sold comparisons from the last six months.

I ended up going to court with my client. I wasn’t called to testify, but I was in the court room. When my client walked through the swinging doors to the counselor’s desks, he glanced over at the opposing counsel’s desk, there sat a copy of the appraisal. Again… interesting.

When it came time to discuss home value, the opposing counsel immediately referred to the appraisal.

“What appraisal?” my client responded. “We didn’t submit an appraisal.” And there it was: home cookin’.

Fortunately, the judge was not home cooked. He saw through it, used the current CMA and awarded the full value of the home. This home cookin’ reeked of deceit and treachery, making us all sick to our stomachs.

Jen Kirchhoefer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jenkirchh@gmail.com.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!