Saturday, September 15, 2007

We're in Resolution Now

We are officially in Resolution with The Road Home now. That is completely different from an Appeal, which can only come after you've been totally rejected. I guess I have that to look forward to.

This was supposed to be posted last week before we got the report I posted a few days ago.

On January 18th we had our appointment. June 4th The Road Home sent us our Gold Letter. On June 11, we fired back a response as best we could considering the forms didn't really fit our situation.

A few weeks ago I called The Road Home and confirmed that they had indeed received our letter on June 15 and realized we were contesting nearly everything they had done. I was told to call back in a week to see what had happened.

Today (September 5) I spoke to a very nice bubbly woman from The Road Home. I wonder if they put happy juice in their coffee or something. We had a grand old time talking about how screwed up the evaluation of our application is. She confirmed that nothing appeared to have been done on our "resolution".

She readily agreed that the Deduction for FEMA emergency housing grant was incorrect and said she would email the person in charge of that area and she felt certain that it would be corrected promptly.

I advised her that we had, through a lawsuit, obtained more money from our Flood Insurance and that should be reflected in out application.

We also discovered that our Title Search had not only been done, it had been uploaded into the system 13 times, each one apparently identical to the next.

Then we got down to the serious matters.

Our Road Home appraisal was seriously low I found out why. A Company named First American Appraisal had done the appraisal on our home. One of the comparables they listed was on at least a mile away from our house on the east side of Elysian Fields, south of Robert E. Lee from our house. That may be a nice neighborhood but its not anything like comparable to the neighborhood I live in. On top of that the value assigned to my house was less than the comparable, in spite of the fact that my house is in a more expensive neighborhood and probably larger. My new best friend, the Case Support Specialist, agreed with me. I guess we should have hired local appraisers who might actually be familiar with our neighborhoods.

The final item was the cost of repair. I have a number of estimates. I have estimates from two insurance companies, from a contractor and comparables from other people. The Road Home didn't bother to share their estimate with us, not even the total. It is simply not listed on our Gold Letter.

That complicates things. It turns out the Case Support Specialists aren't authorized to tell you what the estimate is, even if The Road Home forgot to put it in your letter. I told her what I thought it should be and through a guessing game we determined that their estimate of the repairs to my house would be somewhat less than $50 per square foot. I can't imagine how they got that number.

As we spoke further a number of other facts came forward. If you house is damaged over 50% then The Road Home applies a fixed square footage amount. That is somewhere between $100-$130 per square foot. If however your estimate damage is below 50% then they do a component estimate. That seems reasonable, if the component costs are reasonable. I sorta knew that. They also do an estimate of the cost to raise you house. I didn't know that.

If you elect to raise your home then you can get a $30,000 additional grant. Their estimate of the cost to raise my house was $120,000.

I'm confused by these numbers. There seems to be a discontinuity between the cost of repair derived from the component cost estimate and value of the damage if your house has over 50% damaged. Part of that may be the requirement for any house damaged over 50% to be brought up to current code, including raising it if necessary. But if it costs $120,000 to raise my house and The Road Home will only give me $30,000 I'm not sure how that actually works to my advantage.

I could change a few things and my damage would be over 50%, the cost of repair would remain virtually unchanged and the Road Home would more than double my cost estimate. The only difference would be that we would be required to raise my house and that isn't included in the cost of my repairs.

They are supposed to be sending me something called a CAD report which details their estimate of the value of the damage. When I get the report I imagine that it will become clear.

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