Appraisals Are Like A Box Of Chocolates

American Eagle Auction and Appraisal Company, LLC conducts hundreds of appraisals every year for law firms, insurance agencies, businesses, estate planning and of course the regular folks who are simply curious about what treasures they have laying around the house. 

Any time you are dealing with the public, interesting happenings are sure to happen.   This is especially true during a recent appraisal we conducted for an estate in St. Clair Shores, Michigan.   The relatives made an appointment with our office to have the personal belongings appraised of their recently deceased aunt.    These fine folks drove all the way in from Connecticut to Michigan for a couple days to start the tedious task of settling the estate.

Anyway, it was business as usual when I arrived.  They greeted me at the front door and after a few moments of chit chat, I began taking inventory of the living room, dining room, kitchen, family room, garage, basement and down the long hallway to the bedrooms.   

Despite the  fact that the home was pretty typical with general estate belongings with nothing terribly valuable other than a few choice paintings on the wall, these folks never let me out of their sight.    At first, I was not sure if they followed me around simply because they asked a ton of questions.  You know, “Is that worth much?”,  “That’s a rare item isn’t it?”,  “What do you think so far?” etc. etc.  and/or if there was a trust issue. 

 I could not put a finger on it right away until the husband said to his wife, “The neighbors around here are really great don’t you think?  I mean, they really keep a close eye on this place.”   Then, two minutes later he’s explaining to his wife what a great little community this is because “the police know nobody is living in the home but they frequently check on the place.”   As I’m writing on my clipboard and taking pictures, I could not help the little grin that came over my face.   I’m thinking to myself, “This guy is adding a little verbal home security just in case I’m thinking of breaking into the place to steal his aunt’s Dust Buster and the made in China figurines.”   Instead of just blowing it off, I decided to have a little fun with him.  Keep in mind, fun for me, not so much for him.

I lowered my clipboard and said, “You know John (not his real name), I would not put too much faith in the police or the neighbors for that matter.   I highly doubt the neighbors are watching the place at 2 a.m.  Besides, the neighbors are your worst enemy because they talk about how aunt Millie passed away and discuss that her nearest family members are a half dozen states away.   Furthermore, when the Police check on a house, they do a quick drive by and flick on their spotlight for a couple seconds and move on.  Nobody will see anything from the back of the house.  A professional thief knows all the tricks and with that big lake in the back, they can quietly arrive in a boat and make a smooth getaway going the same route.”   As I turn to continue the inventory, John is rambling on and on about how these neighbors are different because they take turns walking the vacant property at night – surrrrre John. Surrrre! I thought to myself.     I simply said, “well that’s good.  Sounds like you have it covered.”   I had John thinking and it was fun playing his little game back.  

Anyway, the story got real interesting when I went into Aunt Millie’s bedroom to inventory the bedroom suite and decorative trinkets.  The smell in the room was pretty unbearable and I thought momentarily that perhaps there was a dead rodent in the room.  No sooner did I think that and John pipes up, “Yeah.  We cannot get that smell out of this room.  It’s still pretty bad.”  I said, “What is it?”   He replies, “Aunt Millie died in this room and it was nearly a week before she was discovered.”   Great. Next room.

Appraisals are like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re going to get.