Terrifying Encounters from Real-Life Appraisers

appraisersProperty appraisal is not typically thought of as a “dangerous” profession per se. However, personal safety is definitely something to consider when preparing for an appraisal inspection. We recently asked our real estate appraisal community on Facebook, “What’s the scariest thing you’ve encountered during an on-site property inspection?” The answers we got from real-life appraisers range from surprising to funny to startling—to downright terrifying.

Terrifying Encounters from Real-Life Appraisers

Mold and critters

Mold is one of the common environmental hazards you may encounter when inspecting a residential dwelling. Apparently cats and mice (and possibly other small critters) are another issue to look out for. Commenters said they’ve witnessed:

  • “An entire interior coated in black thanks to a flooded basement and 4 years of vacancy.”
  • “A disgruntled foreclosed upon homeowner sprayed the house down with water and turned the heat on full blast and closed up the house. Needless to say, there was ‘discoloration’ or ‘a mold like substance’ everywhere.”
  • “Hundreds of cats in the master bedroom. Master bathroom had a mountain of feline feces. Same house had cockroaches running along walls and ceiling through cobwebs—in daylight. Cute little old lady and her daughter lived there.”
  • “Mouse infested house. The walls of the basement looked like they were moving, but it was just mice. The owner (yup occupied) had kitty litter boxes full of mouse poison that was replaced daily and traps everywhere.”

Unsafe, unsanitary, and just plain creepy

As an appraiser, you may occasionally come across properties with safety and sanitation issues. And you may encounter homes that are just flat-out creepy. These next comments will remind you to tread lightly (and maybe wear a safety mask?) when entering an unknown or vacant dwelling:

  • “Twice I’ve walked into a front door and almost fallen into the crawl space because there was no floor or subfloor.”
  • “Flooring that crumbled under every step.”
  • “Manufactured home sitting on the ground, dirt under what was left of the carpet. Occupied.”
  • “Hoarding.”
  • “‘Biohazard’ on carpet of very nice house where homeowner killed himself.”
  • “Bloody bullet holes in a wall.”
  • “Satanic messages on walls of vacant house.”

Threatening animals

In addition to critters like mice and cats, appraisers have also encountered larger, more threatening animals. Scariest run-ins with animals include:

  • “A horse that wanted to fight me.”
  • “Multiple dogs that want to fight me.”
  • “12’ Alligator. Got within 4’. Then heard growling. Sales Office ‘forgot’ to tell me there was a gator guarding her nest in the rear yard of one of the model homes.”
  • “Six Rottweilers attacking me when I was 8 months pregnant.”

Threatening (or potentially threatening) humans

Humans can also make you feel unsafe during an on-site inspection. Scary run-ins with people include:

  • “Random strangers approaching me at foreclosed houses.”
  • “A homeowner who proudly proclaimed that their town had no people of color.”
  • “Most recently a grown man high as a kite was hiding in the basement and jumped out at me as I started to go down the stairs in a house that was supposed to be empty.”

Drugs and illegal activity

Commenters reported that they’ve seen:

  • “Drug paraphernalia and empty food wrappers in a house that was supposed to be vacant for the prior 3 years.”
  • “Squatters cooking methamphetamine in the basement of a foreclosed house.”
  • “Drug dealing in rear yard and prostitution on all four floors of the house next door while inspecting a foreclosure….”
  • “Pot growing under lamps in the basement with a very scary owner who said I wasn’t supposed to go in the basement.”

Guns and booby traps

The presence of guns is another very scary issue that you may run into. Commenters’ scary stories include:

  • “House had guns all over the place. Not in cases or anything, just laying around. The homeowner was agitated and wouldn’t let me see several rooms.”
  • “When the front door lock didn’t work we went to try the back door…a shotgun was set to fire if that door was opened!”

Other notable (but not-so-scary) encounters

Of course, not all appraisers have encountered such scary or extreme situations while on the job. These stories are relatively mild or even funny:

  • “Well I was going to say when a dog bit me. But all the other answers make mine sound not so bad!”
  • “I’m with you! I was going to say when I got into a ‘vacant’ home and presumably homeless people panicked and ran out of the house. But yeah I guess that’s nothing!”
  • “Wow, I haven’t seen anything, apparently! I was going to jokingly tell about the life size boudoir photo I saw, while standing next to the (clothed) subject.”

Hopefully these extreme stories haven’t frightened you away from the appraisal profession. After all, there are many reasons to love an appraisal career. Based on the responses above, we think it’s safe to say it’s a career path that will keep you on your toes. For helpful safety tips (and much more), enroll in our course: Residential Property Inspection for Appraisers. Want to share your story about a dangerous job experience? Visit our Facebook page to add your comments.

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