5 On Your Side

Lack of Appraisal Holds Up Couple's Refinancing

Posted January 25, 2007 6:14 p.m. EST

— A Granville County couple wanted to refinance their 18-acre spread, but they ran into a snag with the appraisal.

A property appraisal is a critical part of the process when buying or refinancing a home. The bank or finance company wants to know how much a property is worth before they provide a mortgage.

Chris and Kathy Johnson thought they had everything lined up for a new mortgage on their property near Creedmoor last September. The beautiful land has plenty of room for hound dogs, miniature donkeys and even llamas.

The Johnsons were working with Aegis Mortgage Corp., and all the paperwork seemed to be in order, Chris Johnson said.

"It was a done deal. They just needed the appraisal," he said.

Aegis sent Jeff Johnson, no relation, to handle the appraisal. Chris Johnson paid him $350.

When weeks passed without word, an Aegis representative called the Johnsons to say the appraiser was still trying to find a comparable property on which to base the appraisal. Weeks later, he called again to say Jeff Johnson couldn't complete the job.

"I said, 'So, you're telling me he cannot appraise my property?' Chris Johnson said. "(He said) 'That is correct.'"

Jeff Johnson agreed to pay back half of the appraisal fee. But after more than three months with no appraisal and no refund, Chris  Johnson called 5 On Your Side, saying he was fed up.

"Finally, you throw up your hands and say, 'I'm tired of this. I don't want to be lied to anymore.' Half the money is just not good enough. I want the whole truth. I want the whole refund," he said.

Within 15 minutes of a 5 On Your Side call to Aegis, Jeff Johnson called back.

He blamed the delay on having a "difficult time" with his business. He said he couldn't come up with an appraisal for Chris and Kathy Johnson because he didn't think the figure he would come up with would "meet their needs."

"So I just stopped," he said.

A spokeswoman for Aegis said the company is as unhappy as the Johnsons with the appraiser's actions. Appraisers who don't "play fairly with customers" are removed from the company's approved list, she said.

The next day, Jeff Johnson brought the couple $350 in cash.

"I would think (this property is worth something)," Chris Johnson said, adding that he just doesn't know how much.