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Ruh-road: Appraiser shortage affects NCDOT acquisition of rights of way

Oct. 11. By Dave Vieser. As if the funding issues aren’t enough, a shortage of appraisers at the NC Dept of Transportation is playing havoc with the acquisition of property for major road projects such as the widening of West Catawba Avenue in Cornelius.

“There is a national and state appraiser shortage,” said NCDOT spokesman Aaron Moody. “Our appraisal work is entirely outsourced to appraisers who are mostly chosen by consultant right of way firms. These firms want to use experienced appraisers to expedite their projects, and all 14 NCDOT highway divisions are trying to use the best appraisal firms at the same time.”

The shortage hits home on major road projects when property has to be appraised. After design and funding, property acquisition and utility relocation are usually the first steps in the construction phase for these projects.

Cornelius commissioner Dr. Mike Miltich who is chairman of CRPTO, (Charlotte Regional Planning Transportation Organization) says “our biggest issue right now is getting enough appraisers to do all the right of way acquisitions. That and utility movement is what’s currently delaying Cornelius projects from getting shovels in the ground.”


He also emphasized that the shortage is impacting projects throughout the region, not just Cornelius.

Training appraisers

Moody said NCDOT is working with right of way consultants on developing a trainee program to add to the list of approved appraisers.

The shortage first surfaced in 2017, when a National Association of Realtors Appraiser Trends Study concluded that lack of training, downward trends in compensation, and increasing regulation were discouraging appraisers. Low fees and increased regulatory burdens were the major reasons why many were leaving the business.

A ‘perfect appraiser shortage storm’

Then along came the pandemic, along with DOT’s own funding crisis, and the perfect appraiser shortage storm erupted.