Court Rules That Landowners Must Provide Factual Support For Market Value Opinions

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The Texas Supreme Court has recently held that while the property owner rule establishes that an owner is qualified to testify as to market value, the testimony must meet the same requirements as any other opinion evidence. See Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America v. Justiss, No. 10-0451, 2012 Tex. LEXIS 1054 (Tex. December 14, 2012). The Court further held that because property owner testimony is the functional equivalent of expert testimony, it must be judged by the same standards. Property valuations may not be based solely on a property owner’s ipse dixit. “An owner may not simply echo the phrase ‘market value’ and state a number to substantiate his diminished value claim; he must provide the factual basis on which his opinion rests.”

This opinion will favorably impact financial institutions that have to litigate the market value of property. Owners' bare assertions of value are no longer sufficient to support an award.