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Section 3: Negotiations

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This section provides a brief overview of the negotiation process. For more details, see the ROW Acquisition Manual, Chapter 5, Right of Way Property Acquisition.

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Policy Regarding Interests to be Acquired

For on-system projects, two types of property interests are acceptable: fee simple title and easements. Normally, fee simple title, less oil, gas and sulfur will be acquired. In rare circumstances, TxDOT will accept right of way easements. See the ROW Acquisition Manual, Chapter 15, Section 1, Title Requirements: Policy Regarding Title to be Acquired for more information.

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Informational Notices

The LPA must notify property owners of its intent to acquire the property owners' property for right of way purposes. The LPA must also give the property owner the opportunity to accompany the appraiser during the inspection of the property. This may be offered in the informational notice, or in another pre-appraisal contact. See the ROW Acquisition Manual, Chapter 5, Section 3, Informational Notice to Owners Required.

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Before initiating negotiations, the LPA must appraise the property in order to establish an amount the LPA believes is just compensation for the interest to be acquired. The LPA must approve the just compensation value as this task is not delegable to a consultant. In limited circumstances, an appraisal is not required.

Federal law requires two levels of appraisal: value appraisal and review appraisal. The value appraiser cannot also conduct the review appraisal. For both levels of appraisal, the LPA must use appraisers approved by TxDOT.

See the ROW Appraisal and Review Manual, Chapter 8, Section 2, LPA Appraisal Guidelines for in-depth treatment on appraisal standards and review requirements, and Chapter 3, Section 5, Procedures on Appraisals of Specific Types & Situations for guidance on specific appraisal situations such as advertising sign interests and fences.

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Under Texas law, two offers must be made: an initial offer and a final offer.

Once the LPA has established the just compensation for the property, it must promptly make its initial written offer to purchase the property for no less than the full amount believed to be just compensation. This initial offer must be sent certified mail, return receipt requested, and also include a copy of the appraisal on which the offer is based. The initial offer must also include any and all appraisals produced or acquired by the LPA that relate to the owner's property and were prepared within the 10 years preceding the date of the offer. TxDOT also strongly suggests that the LPA include a copy of the Landowner's Bill of Rights with the initial offer, as that document must be given at least seven days before a final offer is made.

The property owner must be given at least 30 days to review the initial offer. After at least 30 days from the date the initial offer is made, the LPA should send a final offer letter to the property owner. If not already included with the initial offer, include a copy of the written appraisal, a copy of the conveyance instrument sought, and a copy of the Landowner's Bill of Rights.

See the ROW Acquisition Manual, Chapter 5, Section 7, Landowner's Bill of Rights and Written Initial Offer to Purchase as Required Elements of a Bona Fide Offer for additional guidance.

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Special Acquisition Situations

The acquisition process can differ based on the type of property owner involved or due to legal constraints. These situations include but are not limited to the acquisition of federal land, state land, railroads, cemeteries, and advertising sign interests. Consult the ROW Acquisition Manual, Chapters 5, 7, 10 and 11 for further guidance.

In addition, a property owner may choose to donate his or her property to the LPA. See the ROW Acquisition Manual, Chapter 6, Section 6, Procedures for Receiving Donations (for LPA).

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