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18

The Court concluded

Coastal

and its progeny provides the proper standard for determining when the

property owner’s valuation testimony adequately supports a judgment. Property owners offering lay valuation

testimony must base that testimony upon more than his

ipse dixit

or mere “say so” and must instead provide

a factual basis for the conclusions reached. The Court observed that property owners testifying to property

value may rely on evidence such as the “price paid for comparable sales, tax valuations, appraisals, online

resources, and any other relevant factors [that] support the claim.”

2

With the “resources available today,” the

Court found this burden would not be particularly “onerous.”

3

The

Justiss

Court examined the owners’ valuation testimony in that case and found it wanting. The Court

held that one witness’s testimony was “speculative,” and that a passing reference to, “what the price of land

is bringing” is insufficient to support the conclusions. A second property owner testified to the property’s

value to him, not market value; an approach previously rejected in

Porras

. Two other homeowners related

testimony about comparable sales post-nuisance, but this testimony, the Court held, was inadequate to

describe how much the property value changed due to the nuisance. The Court dismissed a fifth property

owner’s valuation because he “failed to explain the factual basis” for his conclusions. Where the witness

provides a conclusion is without explanation, the Court held, the testimony is conclusory and constitutes no

evidence.

4

Normally, when no evidence supports a judgment, the Court renders judgment against the party with the

burden of proof.

5

In

Justiss

, however the Court did not follow this general rule and instead remanded for a

new trial:

In

Porras

, we stated that market value could be shown merely “by asking the witness if he

is familiar with the market value of the property,” and we have never before explained the

interplay between

Porras

and 

Coastal

. Because the landowners may have relied on

Porras

in presenting the evidence on their properties’ diminution in value, we conclude a remand is

appropriate.

6

Cases After

Justiss

Since

Justiss

, intermediate court cases have highlighted the consequences that can arise when property

owners offering valuation testimony are not prepared to meet the

Coastal

burden. In

Zhu v. Lam

,

7

a DTPA

and fiduciary duty case involving a real estate brokerage contract, the Houston Court affirmed a no-

evidence summary judgment for the broker in part because the property owner’s testimony included only an

unexplained conclusion regarding value.

8

By contrast, in

Miller v. Argumaniz

,

9

the El Paso Court found that the property owner’s valuation testimony

met the

Coastal

burden when the owner based her valuation opinion on an appraisal performed by a certified

appraiser four years before the relevant date. The Court held that a landowner, like an expert, may rely on

hearsay to form the opinion and that the gap in time between the certified appraisal and the relevant date

did not render the appraisal irrelevant.

0

Unlike the landowner in

Zhu

, the landowner in

Miller

supported her

opinion by testifying to the reasons she concluded as she did. While a property owner’s valuation testimony

under the rule may not be the to the same detail as a trained or licensed expert’s,

Zhu

and

Miller

highlight

that post-

Justiss

, property owners must provide support for valuation testimony similar to the requirement

imposed upon those experts.

Conclusion

Justiss

demonstrates that in valuation cases, landowner litigants can no longer rely upon a mere affirmation

of familiarity with the property and its value to avoid Rule 702 reliability requirements. Property owners

valuation testimony must have a basis in fact. The failure to do so may result in the Property Owner Rule

being insufficient to support the judgment.