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Gary Henry, 03/19/06, TRW editorial in response to SN articles 03/19/06 1 2

Property appraisals of contaminated properties is a complex process

Estimating the impact of dioxin contamination on Real Estate sales and value is not a simple process as some would have us believe.  Traditional appraisal processes used to evaluate a single property are limited in their ability to accurately determine the impact on a properties value when many properties in the area are contaminated.  What homes sell for in relation to the asking price is interesting, but if the asking prices are less than they would be without the contamination, then the survey results are essentially meaningless.   A few telephone calls and selected property records combined with self-serving comments of real-estate agents do not paint a fair picture of the market along the Tittabawassee or the impact of the contamination on property values.

All of this is especially true when you have a Fortune 50 company in your midst spending millions of PR dollars with who knows who to cloud the issue.  A local wealthy individual making false promises and throwing good money after bad combined with real-estate agents downplaying the hazards of dioxin may have created the illusion for some that home sales and property values are not impacted.

Is this why people buy homes in areas with dioxin contamination at levels that scientists of the EPA, WHO, CDC, ATSDR, MDEQ, MDCH and almost every other respected health agency in the world consider hazardous to the health of humans, especially their children?  A recent MSU study found 71% of local residents consider dioxin in the flood plain to be a moderate to high risk to their health.  The MDEQ recently announced that people who do not try to reduce their exposure to flood plain soils and fish consumption can increase their dioxin levels by up to 3,900%.

We wonder if the local reporters called on residents who attempted to sell their property but took them off the market after fruitless attempts to sell.  We wonder how many others attempted to get a representative of the local tycoon to make an offer on their property and where either ignored or never received a call back after the initial encounter.  Both are examples of actual experiences and represent the true reality "reality" in the Tittabawassee flood plain.  

Viable, science based, peer reviewed processes for contaminated property appraisals have been available for years.   The methods used by a local news paper do not appear on anyone's list of approved protocols and are misleading.  Licensed Real Estate agents should be familiar with the UNIFORM STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL APPRAISAL PRACTICE, specifically the Advisory Opinion 9, "The Appraisal of Real Property That May Be Impacted by Environmental Contamination".  Evidently our local bunch have chosen to ignore them.  

Fortunately, experts in the field of contaminated property appraisals can be found at companies such as Greenfield Advisors.  GA has published many papers on the subject.  Visit their web site and check out the "Publications" page for all the details.  Below are a few excerpts:



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