Section 8: Working with Property OwnersAnchor: #i1005850
Contacting Property Owners
It is good practice for R/W-PD personnel to make the initial contact with the property owner and secure permission for appraisers to appraise the property. Where fee appraisers are utilized, this is particularly good practice since staff personnel can answer questions about TxDOT policies and procedures with which the fee appraiser may not be completely familiar. In addition to setting a pattern for good relations with the owner, this practice also conserves the appraiser’s time when making the appraisal. A complete discussion of the procedures to be followed in the pre-appraisal contact is given in Appendix A, Pre-Appraisal Contact/Interview Procedures.
In all cases, the appraiser in his/her position as a representative of TxDOT must be considerate and courteous in dealing with the owner. Good public relations in the appraisal stage definitely aid in subsequent negotiations. Before being released to make specific appraisals, the appraiser should be instructed to:
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- Always contact the owner of the property or his/her agent, if possible, unless instructed otherwise by TxDOT, and offer him/her the opportunity to accompany the appraiser in the inspection of the property. Anchor: #XQAVRPNT
- Always make an independent and separate investigation and inspection of the parcel unless joint inspection is approved by R/W-PD as outlined in Independent Appraisals. The parcel inspection should include a thorough inspection of the premises and improvements in a deliberate and methodical manner. Anchor: #CUSHLKUI
- Be courteous and considerate of the owner or tenant in answering his/her questions, but under no circumstances discuss valuation in any form with the owner. Questions regarding the acquisition or relocation assistance processes shall be referred to the R/W-PD office.
Refusal to Permit Entry for Appraisal Purposes
Whenever a property owner refuses to permit appraisers employed by TxDOT to enter the property in order to view it, take measurements and photographs, or make other necessary inspections, legal means are available by which such entry can be gained. However, in the interest of expediting the acquisition of right of way, it has been determined that court proceedings to merely gain right of entry will not be resorted to in the first instance. The initial procedure in such instances will be as follows:
The appraiser will not enter the property but will endeavor to view it from as many viewpoints as possible. The appraiser should make a careful study of all available records from the available sources, including but not limited to:
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- Satellite, aerial, and other publicly available imagery of the property; Anchor: #TENVNQDA
- U. S. Geodetic Contour maps, if available; Anchor: #LRAYLYWV
- Appraisal District records; Anchor: #MORCFTNY
- records in Building Inspector’s Office if inside a city; and Anchor: #FWYQSQTM
- prior sales and marketing information.
The appraiser may take distant photographs and resort to any other sources of information to use as a basis for their report. The appraisal report will clearly indicate that the appraiser was not permitted to enter upon the property and that the report is predicated on certain assumptions that should be detailed. The appraiser should also clearly set forth what sources of information were used as a basis for their assumptions.
When it is necessary to appraise properties by this method and eminent domain proceedings become necessary, entry by court order can be obtained as a part of the proceedings, and the usual complete appraisal will then be performed.