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Stand Back – Gwen Banta Is About to Go Postal!

If David Letterman thinks he has had a few bad weeks, he ought to be a Realtor! Dave has a beef with the Fourth Estate; we are duking it out with a gaggle of clueless appraisers. Dave’s odds are better.

Yes, I know there are some great appraisers out there, and I applaud you. In fact, I MISS you! I am referring to the yahoos who just received an appraiser’s badge and now believe they are qualified to appraise the Millennium Falcon. Some of these appraisers are as new to the territory as Lewis and Clark were to the Columbia River. Of course I blame the bone heads behind the HVCC for this situation, because they have inadvertantly set us up for disaster.

Who Are These People???

I actually had a call from an appraiser who sounded so young I assumed she was calling from her backyard Play Gym. She chirped that her name was Sandi (probably spelled with an ‘I” that she dots with a heart.) Poor Sandi asked me if Mulholland Drive is “anything special” because the listing remarks on the house she was appraising touted the property’s Mulholland location. Dear God! I was tempted to tell her it’s a Dutch community she should check out…right after she watches the cattle roundup on Rodeo Drive. I felt very sorry for the parties involved in that escrow, which was being jeopardized by a prepubescent with a gross lack of expertise in our particular locale.

And last week I received an equally distressing call from a male appraiser who is from somewhere so far East of L.A. that he can no doubt see the Painted Desert from his clown car. He asked me what an HPOZ is and why the listing agent said in the listing remarks that it would “help protect the integrity” of a home. He had never heard of an HPOZ. (I swear, it’s true!) I considered telling him that an HPOZ is a giant condom that fits over the edifice to “protect” it, and that HPOZ is an acronym for Have Protection Or Zipit. (I try to help whenever I can.)

You may think I am being hard on these appraisers, but too many deals are falling out of escrow as a result of their lack of knowledge about specific areas, and that directly affects our shrunken paychecks…not to mention Prada shoe sales. As a result of the new HVCC , the lenders have been busing in the cheapest appraisers they can dig up. Congress needs to hear our collective Munchian scream. They would drag up the dead guy from Weekend at Bernie’s if he would offer a discount. The masterminds behind the new HVCC codes need to be reminded that with random selection, usually based on the most attractive price, the results are often a disaster… like sleeping with your promiscuous cousin.

To that end, I have compiled a short test that an Appraiser must pass before he will be allowed to step foot in my town again. I urge you to do the same. If they cannot answer these simple questions, call me and I will have my cousin Guido educate them properly:

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Appraiser’s Test

1. An HPOZ means: a) Historical Preservation Overlay Zone or b) Help Preserve Ohio’s Zoo.
2. Coastal Commission is an entity that: a) protects and enhances the resources of the coastal zone or b) an entity that makes agents cliff dive for their commission checks.
3. Upgrades mean: a) improvements to a property or b) a scholastic spike resulting from sleeping with your tutor.
4. Faulty wiring means: a) electrical problems or b) a tightrope act on the San Andreas fault.
5. Cape Cod home: a) an architectural style or b) a spawning ground for Superhero, cape wearing fish.
6. Square feet refers to: a) a means of measurement or b) a seller with deformed appendages.
7. Foreclosure: a) the repossession of a house by the bank or b) a part of the body that requires circumcision so you can close your zipper.
8. NOD is: a) Notice of Default or b) Winken and Blinken’s brother.
9. Copper plumbing: a) an upgrade in systems that increases house value or b) the urinary tract of an LAPD officer
10. House bolting: a) a house that is affixed to its foundation b) a house that got up and went.
11. HVAC: a) Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning or b) Hookers in Vermont Accept Cash
12. HOA: a) Home Owners Association or b) Homely Orphan Administration
13. REO: a) Real Estate Owned or b) Romanian Elf Obsession
14. Escrow: a) process where sellers and buyers give funds and documents to a neutral third party or b) a warning yell from Tattoo on Fantasy Island when a big black bird flew over his tiny head.
15. COE: a) Close of Escrow or b) Crotch Odor Expert
16. Notice to Perform: a) a notice to fulfill contractual obligations or b) a husband’s cue when he sees the Viagra on his pillow
17. Transaction: a) a business deal or b) the hopes of a West Hollywood cross dresser on a Saturday night
18. Request For Repairs: a) a negotiation for to repair property or b) the cry of Joan Rivers’ face
19. Retrofit: a) to make repairs to meet government compliance or b) to squeeze yourself into your 1970’s bell bottoms
20. Statutory Disclosures: a) disclosures required by civil code or b) a few facts Roman Polanski wishes to hell he had not ignored.

The answer to all of these is letter ‘a’. If your appraiser misses any of these, please put him back on the Greyhound and then file a report with the DRE (Dolt Recall Embassy). It’s time to fight back!

Written By

I wear several hats: My mink fedora real estate hat belongs to Sotheby’s International Realty on the world famous Sunset Strip. I’M not world famous, but I've garnered a few Top Producer credits along the way. I also wear a coonskin writer's cap with an arrow through it, having written a few novels and screenplays and scored a few awards there, too. (The arrow was from a tasteless critic.) My sequined turban is my thespian hat for my roles on stage, and in film and television, Dahling. You can check me out in all my infamy at LinkedIn,, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.



  1. anitacrum

    October 16, 2009 at 10:47 am

    LMAO. Oh I especially love 2b. Although sometimes I think cliff diving might be easier. Maybe if you add “into shark infested waters” that would make it more on par with what we go through sometimes. Thanks for the laughs and kudos for your creativity.

  2. Gwen Banta

    October 16, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Thank you, Anita. I think “shark infested waters” is better than anything I could have come up with – especially here in L.A.!

  3. Melina Tomson

    October 16, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    You know I just had to meet a young appraiser out at a house because it took a picture of a “missing light fixture” that was a heating vent cover that had been popped off. The lender was requiring that we put in the missing light fixture, which was really a heating vent…

    He also wrote that one of the rooms was “missing flooring” in the house and then took a picture of the wood floors. Apparently he thought they should have carpet on them…

  4. Ben Goheen

    October 16, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I didn’t know what HPOZ was until I read your test. Does that make me a bad appraiser? No, because those aren’t in my area.

    While I understand your frustration with appraisers, it’s getting old reading these articles bashing appraisers and calling them childish names just because you’re mad at them. Yes there are bad appraisers out there, I don’t doubt that for a second. But one is “prepubescent” and the other drives a “clown car” – do you know these as facts?? I could write a blog post EVERY DAY about idiotic real estate agents I encounter. Hell, everyone here can probably rattle off at least 5 of them off the top of their heads. Yet nobody seems to rip into them like they do appraisers because it’s we just expect it.

    As an appraiser I constantly have to deal with crazy requests from underwriters & lenders. Just today someone wanted 2 additional ACTIVE comps. Ever heard of Go look them up yourself instead of wasting my time. Check out this appraiser’s recent struggle with an AMC/lender:

    I know you’re trying to make a point, but name calling won’t solve the HVCC.

  5. Real Estate Feeds

    October 16, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Stand Back – Gwen Banta Is About to Go Postal!: Dont be stingy with your thoughts- stop by and comment!

  6. RealEstate Babble

    October 16, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    AgentGenius: Stand Back – Gwen Banta Is About to Go Postal! Full

  7. John C. Carlson

    October 16, 2009 at 8:39 pm


    I am one of those appraisers from “east of L.A.” but not as far east as the Painted Desert. I happen to specialize in valuations of luxuy, architectural and historic residences. In fact, I am just completing an appraisal of Mr. Julius Shulman’s house and Studio. I do know what HPOZ is and deal with how to measure historical and architectural prominance in every assignment.

    I wish I could cast barbs at CLAW Area 3 Agents, but during my research for the valuation of Mr. Shulman’s property, every Agent I talked to was excellent. In fact, one of your fellow Sotheby-Sunset Agents, Ms. Julie Jones was especially helpful. I had one of the longest verifacation interviews I’ve ever had with Ms. Jones.

    I also wish I could take you to task about your comments about my so-called “peers”, but I can’t. The only thing I can tell you is take your complaint to Mr. Andrew Coumo, Atty. General of N.Y. It was his “agreement” that he forced down the throats of FANNIE & FREDDIE that spawned the HVCC. Residential appraisers have been relegated to the level of form-fillers. I would be happy to come to your office and give a talk about the HVCC and how to cope with appraisers that you are now encountering.

    I could also come up with an equally long “test” I would like to give Agents outside of your area. Especially the one who recently asked my “Why do appraisers always have to know what the rent is in an apartment project?” He was selling a 6-Unit apartment and apparently did not know that the INCOME in an INCOME PRODUCING PROPERTY was an important feature.

    The only hope that I have that things will get better is if lenders wake up and realize that forcing appraisers to accept starvation wages and complete appraisals in 24-hours does not add to quality. Also, having an appraiser come from 150 miles away is not conducive to competant analysis.

    By the way, I have added you to my “LinkedIn” site.

    John C. Carlson
    CA Certified General Real Estate Appraiser
    Diamond Bar, CA

  8. Anchor Investment

    October 17, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Stand Back – Gwen Banta Is About to Go Postal!: Foreclosure: a) the repossession of a house by the bank or b) a ..

  9. Steve Remillong

    October 17, 2009 at 1:11 am

    Stand Back – Gwen Banta Is About to Go Postal!

  10. CapeGroup RealEstate

    October 17, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Stand Back – Gwen Banta Is About to Go Postal!: Cape Cod home: a) an architectural style or b) a spawning ground..

  11. Joe Loomer

    October 17, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Ben – you SHOULD write posts on the idiot agents you meet every day – then we’d have more comic releif while waiting for Gwen’s weekly missives (which bash agents more than appraisers any day of the week)….

    Gwen – I only have a problem with #11 because, ahem, both are true. Not that I know that for a fact or anything, just sayin’, not hatin’ !!

    Oh, and can you take on idiot lenders next ;).

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  12. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 17, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Is the Letterman photo a fake?

  13. Paula Henry

    October 18, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Gwen – I was so busy reading this to my daughter, I forgot to stop and comment. I never tire of your humor and uncanny accuracy.

  14. Gwen Banta

    October 24, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    I like your “shark” addition, Anita – it’s so apropos. They should have told us in Real Estate school that a commission check is sometimes delivered by the EMTs!

  15. Gwen Banta

    October 24, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    OMG Melina – Did he also think the bidet was a spa for small people?

  16. Gwen Banta

    October 24, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Ben, I think you missed the line where I said I MISS THE GOOD APPRAISERS. The fact that you do not need to know what an HPOZ is because they are not in your area underscores my point. Appraisers need to appraise in their areas of expertise, just as agents need to sell in their areas of expertise. if one is not qualified, one should not take on the job.

    Please read my other blogs, because no one – especially agents – escapes my satirical scrutiny – whether prebubescent or old like me. I am not out to diss the hapless wretches – only their stupidity. And c’mon – the clown car was funny!

  17. Gwen Banta

    October 24, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    I love your comment, John – and I think it would be GREAT if you came to our office to help explain how to deal with the recent changes. That would be so helpful.

    Not too long ago I posted an Agent Idiot blog, but I think I shall put it in the form of a test per your suggestion. I think the MLS Bloopers blogs I write do a fairly good job of highlighting those agents who are dumber than plant life, but a test would be fun. Believe me, no one escapes my pen. Especially me. But I do know enough not to present myself as an expert in an area beyond my purview, and I sense that you do as well. Thank you for your expert advice – if we all work together we can achieve excellence. (PS – Julie is great, I agree!)

  18. Gwen Banta

    October 24, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Great idea, Joe – I think I’ll take on the idiot lenders next month…but first I need to call the hookers in Vermont to dig up a little dirt on you. Beware the Basher… because “He who doth protest too much…”

  19. Gwen Banta

    October 24, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    @Atlanta – I am not sure if the photo is a fake…but I am.

  20. Gwen Banta

    October 24, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Thank you, Paula – As long as there is an MLS, I think we will have a road show in the making!

  21. Gwen Banta

    October 24, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    RT @agentgenius Stand Back – Gwen Banta Is About to Go Postal!

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