I just got off the phone with Jamal, the supervisor for Cassandra, my Road Home caseworker. He said that he believed that my $146K pre-Katrina estimate for the Road Home came from a "BPO." At first I thought he said this stood for "Broke Price Onion," and I said "Huh?" and he explained slowly "Broker Price Opinion." He said he would check this out and get back to me, letting me know for certain how they calculated the value of my home to be $146,000, especially since we bought it 4 years before Katrina for $157,000. Someone suggested that the $146K assessment might have come from our property taxes. I checked that idea out on the Orleans Parish Assessor's Office website. That said in a 2007 certified assessment that our land was worth $13K and the building $103K, for a total of $116K. I thought maybe that it was assessed after the storm, as in it was worth more before Katrina, and now that it is damaged, it is worth only $116K. But I believe our house has always been undervalued for tax purposes. That might change, or at least I hope we have a more equitable system, after the elections next Tuesday when voters decide on consolidating the many tax assessors in New Orleans.
Jamal also said that they were going to use the appraisal of our house for $193,000 that we got when we refinanced in 2003. How lucky was that? Not only did our interest rate go down with the refinancing, but it might have gotten us $47,000 extra (193K-146K) from the Road Home. But then if I've learned anything in the aftermath of Katrina, it's that things move slowly, and I won't get excited until I see the actual check. They also wrote Allstate asking for clarification for the homeowner's numbers. Jamal said that they would not count ALE money (That's additional living expenses for my beer drinking friends).
I also found out that Allstate has given us an additional $1200 for wind damage. After our attorney fees and fees to hire adjusters and all this other stuff, that meant Therese and I will get a check for just over $100. This makes me very nervous. What if in our lawsuit against Allstate we are awarded $60,000 but no additional attorney fees. Then, we might get $40,000, with $20,000 going to our attorney, and then the Road Home would calculate that as $60,000 less they have to pay us. In short, we would be out $20,000, and would have been much better off not have sued Allstate, and to let the Road Home decide if they wanted to pursue that course of action. I'm pretty sure that I can survive rebuilding my life and city once, but the next time I think I might move far away to an isolated cave somewhere in the Mediterranean. Does anyone know contact info for Calypso or Polyphemous?
Finally, I spoke with Leslie Eaton from the New York Times about my experiences with the Road Home last Monday. I'm either a media-whore or someone who feels that my story will help others.