Inspections Can Sometimes Be Embarrassing

Embarrassing Indeed! Inspections Can Sometimes Be Embarrassing...Inspections can occasionally get embarrassing, right? It happens to all of us. That’s just part of the appraisal business. But that does not make things any easier or less embarrassing, does it. Let me tell you three stories.

First is the house with the unique basement. It’s your typical single-family residence on the ground floor; nothing out of the ordinary, nothing embarrassing. Then I tell the owner I need to go into the basement to inspect it. He hesitantly says OK, so into the basement we go. It was not your typical basement. It looked like some kind of department store down there. But instead of appliances, and lawn mowers, and household furnishings, he had row after row of adult toys and other such items. There was so much merchandise there I wondered if the house was really zoned for retail use. It was not, but the adult toy business was obviously quite good!

The next story involves a VA inspection, which means I needed to inspect the attic. The owner, a very kind and pleasant man, tells me the attic access is thru his wife’s small walk-in closet. So, I’ve got my ladder to inspect the attic, but the room is so small that I can’t get the ladder in the right place unless I close the closet door. So, I turn on the light and close the closet door. And what do I see? On the back of the door, in one of those plastic hanging things like you store shoes on, are whips, chains, handcuffs, and other such adult items. I was wondering if he bought them from the guy who owned the first house. When I came down from the attic, the guy said nothing, as if all that adult stuff I saw in the closet was common and everyday. I was too embarrassed to say anything and got out of there as quickly as I could, yet still maintain my dignity.

The third story involves another typical and common single family residence. As I was inspecting it (with the owner right at my shoulder asking dumb questions and commenting on the obvious), there was nothing in it to prepare me for what I found in the owner’s bedroom! As I entered the bedroom, I noticed he had a lot of framed photos on the wall, some of them rather large. As I got closer to them, I saw they were of his very attractive wife. It was obvious she was very attractive since many of those photos were nudes of her. I can’t take photos of the bedroom without including the nude photos. I mean, I have to look at the walls to make sure there is not any water damage, right? I can’t not look at them! I don’t know what to say to the guy about the photos, so I say nothing (out loud anyway). It’s clear I’m looking at nude photos of his wife, but that does not appear to affect him at all. Finally, I finish up and get back into my car to leave. That was really weird!

If you’ve had an embarrassing moment on an assignment, please share it with me. I won’t give out any details and, if you ask, I’ll keep your name confidential, too.

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 216 What Do You Do When An Inspection Gets Embarrassing?

Dustin Harris
Latest posts by Dustin Harris (see all)
Dustin Harris

Dustin Harris

A multi-business owner and residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers. His principles and methodologies are also taught in an online, Mastermind group. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children. Dustin Harris on

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar Carl says:

    The most embarrassing was when the homeowner answered the door only wearing lingerie. And it was a dude!!!

  2. Avatar Mike says:

    This just happened to me a few weeks ago. The owner left work to meet me on his lunch break. We pulled up at the house the same time. He opened the door to let me and he went back to his truck to do some paperwork. I go through the downstairs, then go upstairs to find his high school aged daughter and her boyfriend going at it in her room.

  3. Avatar Jack Of All Trades says:

    The most embarrassing moment was dealing with AMC’s with a huge touch of anger

  4. Avatar Coach says:

    A few years back I walked in a house to a 6 foot high pile of trash. After maneuvering my way to the living room the owner invited me to sit. He explained that his son was suppose to clean the house and apologized for the “mess”. The son suddenly appeared out of nowhere. He started yelling, swearing and spitting at his dad. The father swore back at the son… the yelling got louder. Feeling a little awkward, I told the father I had forgotten a document in my car. As I was heading to the door, the situation got out of hand and they started punching each other. As you can imagine, I didn’t stick around to find out what happened next and got the hell out of dodge!

  5. Avatar JC says:

    I would say falling into the pool while I was stepping further back to include more of the rear photo. That was a pretty embarrassing and costly experience.

    • Avatar don says:

      This was my greatest fear. Some yrs ago a client greeted me in his front yard and stated he had a sick dog in the orchard behind the pool, he asked if I needed to see beyond that fence I assured him a causal look and his statement would do. As in inspected the roof I needed to step up on a bench for perspective, I casually looked back over the high fence and saw his sick dog, it was named MARY JANE and was tall and a bright green. I couldn’t’ help my self and stop the giggles, as I tried to hide my emotion he turned bright red

      I reported the sick dog in the VA report and never heard back

  6. Retired Appraiser Retired Appraiser says:

    Mine was the hoarder house from hell.  My first but not last encounter with a hoarder.  The owner met me in her car parked in front of the home.  Her entire care was full to the roof of stuff (except for the drivers seat).  She informed me that I couldn’t go in the house but I could do my inspection through the windows.  I told her that was not possible.  After enduring her anger for 30 minutes she finally allowed me to step into the home.  The entire house was filled with stuff around 5 – 7 foot deep with only tiny trails 1′ wide.  Some rooms were inaccessible completely.  I was able to access perhaps 3 of 7 rooms.  She was terrified that I would disturb something and she would never be able to find it again.  In the end the entire appraisal was a bust and she called it off.

  7. Mine was showing up for a case intended to go to court. I was a designated expert. ALL attorneys and parties were to meet there. High-end neighborhood. Big deal easement issue that entailed a demand for illegally built significant improvements to be removed.

    I got there early as I usually try to do. Found my brand new digital measuring wheel didn’t work. Not even with new batteries. Asked owner where the nearest hardware store was and explained wheel didn’t work and my normal tape backups were in my other car. He was great about it – loaned me his 25′ steel tape measure and even held the other end for me on the longer runs.

    No doubt who was holding the ‘dumb’ end of the tape that day.


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Inspections Can Sometimes Be Embarrassing

by Dustin Harris time to read: 2 min