Letters to the editor

Dear editor,

This letter describes a recent experience which I believe illustrates an important facet of Presidio County which should be understood by all property owners.

In early June (2018) I was hired by a Marfa homeowner to prepare a residential appraisal for his homestead to estimate its 1/1/2018 market value. The homeowner intended to use this report to protest the market value assessment issued by the Presidio County Appraisal District which he believed to be in excess of its fair market value.

A residential real estate appraisal report by a Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser is a financial document reflecting an estimate of fair market value of the property as of the “effective date” described in the report. It represents the standard which is accepted by banks, the US Treasury, private or public persons or entities for use in lending, estate valuations and/or other transactions. Thus, the County and the ARB should have simply accepted the report, adjusted the homeowner’s value accordingly and moved on.

Last week I received a call from the property owner stating the appraisal report had NOT been “accepted” by the Appraisal Review Board (“ARB”) for reasons he did not fully understand. I asked him to meet me at the Presidio County Appraisal District office the next morning so we might clarify why the appraised value had been rejected.

Within the first minute of conversation with the county’s chief appraiser it became clear why my appraisal report had not been accepted by either the chief appraiser or the ARB: No one in the protest hearing knew how to read or interpret a standard residential real estate appraisal report. Not the chief appraiser, nor anyone in the appraisal district office, nor any of the members of the ARB.

For readers who might not understand what the ARB is: It is a panel of volunteer citizens whose role it is to hear the facts as presented by both the chief appraiser and homeowner(s) protesting their notice of appraised value issued by the County. If a discrepancy exists between the County’s assessment (estimate of value) and presented facts, it is within the purview of the ARB’s role to require value adjustments be made accordingly.

In the ARB hearing with the Presidio County Chief Appraiser present, apparently the question was raised by either the ARB or chief appraiser of whether the appraisal report I provided included the land in the estimate of value. No one, including the chief appraiser & homeowner, could answer this question. The homeowner was working on the assumption the chief appraiser was versed in how to read & understand a standard residential appraisal. This was not the case.

I have protested residential property valuations in Bexar, Harris, Comal, Travis, Reeves, Jeff Davis & Brewster counties and have NEVER met a chief appraiser who did not know how to read a standard residential appraisal report, nor have I EVER been asked whether the land was part of the estimate of value for an existing home. I might speculate this is because the land is clearly described as a component of the valuation (pages 1 – 3) describing the subject property. Although theoretically one could appraise an existing home without the land, I have NEVER seen nor heard of this being done for a market value appraisal.

Reading a standard residential appraisal report might be nuanced, but it is not rocket science. There are specific headings designed to walk anyone reading the report (homeowners, bankers, chief appraisers, lawyers, underwriters, IRS agents, etc.) through various components of value: Main ingredients such as Site/Land; Improvements/Condition & the Market Comparison appear on pages #1 & #2 of the standard report form.

In retrospect, I should have shown my client how to read this report and despite English not being his primary language, I believe this would have taken less than 15min. Nevertheless, he assumed (as did I) the chief appraiser of Presidio County, whose job it is to set and when necessary, adjust property values throughout our communities (most of which are residential) would be proficient, if not expert, at reading and interpreting a residential appraisal report.

Thus, although a residential appraisal report was provided to every person in my client’s hearing detailing the land value and presenting the condition of the subject property complete with a floor plan sketch and photos detailing a valuation representing a sum almost half of the Presidio County Appraisal District’s value using a “mass appraisal” estimate. (Mass appraisal typically checkerboards an area’s values and is generally known to be an estimate of value, compared to the more precise, detailed and accurate report generated by a Certified Real Estate Appraiser.)

Bottom line: My report was cast aside for lack of understanding as though it had been written in Greek because no one present could understand a standard residential appraisal report. This, in a county where the Chief Appraiser and District staff have been offered incentives to pursue continuing education and have also had full access to a consulting appraiser (Mr. Richard Petree) for several years running also paid by Presidio County.

One can generally conclude the consequence of governmental agencies & their employees choosing not to become expert at their jobs means taxpayers will suffer: Either we choose to pay a substantially larger property tax, spend valuable time taking the issue to the next level of protest, seek arbitration, or in the worst-case scenario, pursue legal action. Unfortunately, in every situation taxpayers also pay the cost of defending County employees when they fail at their jobs.

For this case, the property owner awaits a transcript of his meeting with the Chief Appraiser, for which they have 10 days to provide and will then decide how to proceed for a proper, correct valuation of his family’s home.

Walter Hopper


Dear editor,

Let me start by saying my first reaction to the responses I received on my letter in the June 28 issue was to respond with rude and crude statements of how I am right and you are wrong. After collecting myself and realizing that everyone is entitled to their opinion, I saw that it was an unnecessary and a wrong response. We will never get anywhere by attacking each other.

Freedom can’t be separated from accountability. We may be free to do as we desire but we are not free from the consequences of our behavior. With that being said, I do feel that it is necessary to voice my opinion and state a few facts on this matter due to the severity of the situation.

I would assume that y’all know about the immigration law that exists where due process is not part of the equation, and has been in place for over 20 years. My common-sense radar tells me that even 20 years ago, our leaders figured out that the influx of immigrants on a massive scale could never be dealt with by due process in a logistical or economic way. There are not enough courts or judges to handle such a load, nor is there an economy that could handle that many people at once.

I don’t consider myself to be a cruel person in anyway. I will, however, stand up for what I believe is wrong against my country, my family and myself. There are a multitude of options for immigrants to enter this country legally. I don’t care what country they are from, what race, or gender they are, but if someone comes in this country illegally, “l have a problem with them.”

I would not sneak in the back door to better my situation no matter how dire it may be. There is right and wrong no matter how you want to slice it. Respect is something that is earned. That is why in today’s world it is so hard to come by. A person has to think of how their actions will affect others and in doing so they will either gain the respect of those around them or gain a sense of resentment.

The action of Illegal immigrants has shown no reason for my respect. For many years now I have heard the old saying that there are two things that are certain in this life, “death and taxes,” but one of them doesn’t apply for some if the government doesn’t know they exist.

In closing, I would say to our leaders, build a wall, a moat, or a fence, I don’t care. Keep them out to where they have to come in LEGALLY!


Lance Jarratt

Fort Davis