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Section 2: The Review Appraiser

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Qualifications of the Review Appraiser

Contract (PREAS) appraisers and staff appraisers that are credentialed as certified general real estate appraisers or certified residential appraisers by TALCB perform all appraisal review assignments for TxDOT that involve an opinion of value for real estate. The review appraiser also occupies the unique position of arbiter of the many issues presented in the appraisals. Since the appraisals provide the main basis upon which the state endeavors to determine adequate (just) compensation to acquire property, it follows that nothing less than the best possible effort is acceptable.

The appraisal reflects the appraiser's:

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  • professional opinion of value;
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  • appraisal skills and abilities;
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  • knowledge of a specific property;
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  • professional judgment in application of recognized methods and techniques that apply to the appraisal assignment, knowledge of local financing, market conditions, market trends and other criteria.

Therefore, it is unusual to have two or more appraisals alike as to form, data, or value. Obviously, then, when two or more appraisals are involved and different values are anticipated, it is the responsibility of the review appraiser to consider the credibility of each appraisal, and to recommend a value commensurate with facts. To accept a higher value simply to eliminate a problem of negotiation or to expedite the process is to betray the professional trust that is inherent in the job, which is to protect the taxpayer as well as the property owner. To recommend the low value simply because it may result in buying the property at a cheaper price is decidedly unethical and contrary to the department’s responsibility to protect private property interests of the citizens of Texas. In addition, the latter course leads to poor public relations, more eminent domain proceedings, and loss of public confidence.

Of equal importance is the fact that quality appraisal reviews will always result in constantly improved appraisals. The knowledge that a well‑informed review appraiser stands between the appraiser of the property and final approval of the recommended compensation will naturally motivate the appraiser to put forth the best possible appraisal effort. A good review appraiser, therefore, plays a significant role in setting the stage that will ultimately reflect the state's image in the acquisition of private property.

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Functions of Review Appraisers

The functions of the review appraisers are comparable in responsibility to other major functions of fieldwork. Review appraisers are responsible for:

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  • appraisal work that is commensurate with the types of assignments permitted by the appraiser's state credential,
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  • assigning parcels to be appraised and creating work authorizations,
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  • advising fee appraisers, administrative reviews or technical reviews that involve an opinion of value must be prepared by appraisers that are credentialed as certified general or certified residential real estate appraisers,
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  • recommending reports to be released for negotiation,
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  • determining retention values,
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  • assisting in eminent domain cases, and
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  • furnishing appraisal support for acceptance of Special Commissioners' Awards and recommended settlements of eminent domain lawsuits.

In addition, ROW staff appraisers:

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  • assist the engineering staff in highway location work,
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  • prepare estimated right of way costs on possible alternate routes and for programming purposes,
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  • act in an advisory capacity where right of way costs relate to engineering matters,
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  • collect basic data on the costs of new construction, fences, and advertising signs, and
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  • maintain a file of comparable sales information on each right of way project.
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Right of Way Division Review Appraisers

The Appraisal Branch of ROW Division HQ is concerned with the review and processing of appraisals, management of Professional Real Estate Appraisal Service contracts, appointment of staff appraisers submitted and recommended for approval by the R/W-PD offices. This branch is responsible for:

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  • reviewing special case appraisal reports;
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  • reviewing the R/W-PD analysis of the appraisals and their recommended values;
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  • preparing review comments;
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  • maintaining the statewide list of department-certified fee appraisers in the ROWIS;
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  • recommending for the ROW Division Director's approval all retention values and the values of all properties to be acquired for:
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  • reviewing all appraisal support for R/W-PD recommendation of the acceptance of Commissioners' Awards and recommended settlements in eminent domain cases, and
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  • assuring receipt of adequate documentation of appraised and approved values.
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