By Martine M. White, ASA, AAA

Just When I Thought it was Safe to Go Back into the Shower – Once upon a dreary afternoon…I found myself alone on an estate appraisal that would have made Alfred Hitchcock’s imagination run wild. I started the day with a young intern from New York City to assist me, and although she had to catch a train in the early afternoon, I thought for sure we would be able to wrap up the inventory by then.

My client was slightly older than a middle-aged gentleman who had lived alone with his mother. I still remember when he initially called to book the appraisal he had said that he thought ‘his body should be appraised as well’ although this was clearly a joke, I should have hung up the phone right then!

As we began the appraisal inspection on that gloomy day, we realized along with the antique furnishings there was quite a lot of Continental porcelain and decorative art to be appraised as well. As we proceeded, I began to observe an unusual similarity with the collection. Upon close inspection, I realized that the collection of figurines were all seamlessly glued back together after being severed at the head. Trying to remain positive and thinking this may just be a fluke, I continued with the inspection that led me upstairs to a small bedroom where the client evidently slept. Upon entering the room with the unmade bed, I got the eerie feeling as though I had stepped into a boyish bedroom frozen in time from the 1950s with pennant flags covering the red plaid wall paper and a school desk adorned with trophies. By this time my intern had to catch her train, so I was moving on to inventory the master bedroom where his deceased mother had not slept in for over a year. The first strange thing I noticed was that this bed was also unmade, and her slippers still sat eerily in place by the side of her bed. As butterflies in my stomach were beginning to take flight, I heard the garage door open and to my dismay the client had returned earlier than expected. He quietly made his way upstairs and asked me to come with him to the basement to appraise some furniture stored there. With trepidation, I followed him into the dark cellar, my cell phone gripped tightly in the clammy palm of my hand. As I descended the stairs, I couldn’t help but think of Tony Perkins in “Psycho.” Thankfully there was no one down there waiting for me in a rocking chair, but I still wondered that evening how much water damage would be done to my bathroom if I showered with the curtain open!