49 CFR § 24.102 - Basic acquisition policies.
(a) Expeditious acquisition. The Agency shall make every reasonable effort to acquire the real property expeditiously by negotiation.
(b) Notice to owner. As soon as feasible, the Agency shall notify the owner in writing of the Agency's interest in acquiring the real property and the basic protections provided to the owner by law and this part. (See § 24.203.)
(c) Appraisal, waiver thereof, and invitation to owner.
(1) Before the initiation of negotiations the real property to be acquired shall be appraised, except as provided in § 24.102 (c)(2), and the owner, or the owner's designated representative, shall be given an opportunity to accompany the appraiser during the appraiser's inspection of the property.
(2) An appraisal is not required if:
(i) The owner is donating the property and releases the Agency from its obligation to appraise the property; or
(ii) The Agency determines that an appraisal is unnecessary because the valuation problem is uncomplicated and the anticipated value of the proposed acquisition is estimated at $10,000 or less, based on a review of available data.
(C) The Federal Agency funding the project may approve exceeding the $10,000 threshold, up to a maximum of $25,000, if the Agency acquiring the real property offers the property owner the option of having the Agency appraise the property. If the property owner elects to have the Agency appraise the property, the Agency shall obtain an appraisal and not use procedures described in this paragraph. (See appendix A, § 24.102(c)(2).)
(d) Establishment and offer of just compensation. Before the initiation of negotiations, the Agency shall establish an amount which it believes is just compensation for the real property. The amount shall not be less than the approved appraisal of the fair market value of the property, taking into account the value of allowable damages or benefits to any remaining property. An Agency official must establish the amount believed to be just compensation. (See § 24.104.) Promptly thereafter, the Agency shall make a written offer to the owner to acquire the property for the full amount believed to be just compensation. (See appendix A, § 24.102(d).)
(e) Summary statement. Along with the initial written purchase offer, the owner shall be given a written statement of the basis for the offer of just compensation, which shall include:
(1) A statement of the amount offered as just compensation. In the case of a partial acquisition, the compensation for the real property to be acquired and the compensation for damages, if any, to the remaining real property shall be separately stated.
(2) A description and location identification of the real property and the interest in the real property to be acquired.
(3) An identification of the buildings, structures, and other improvements (including removable building equipment and trade fixtures) which are included as part of the offer of just compensation. Where appropriate, the statement shall identify any other separately held ownership interest in the property, e.g., a tenant-owned improvement, and indicate that such interest is not covered by this offer.
(f) Basic negotiation procedures. The Agency shall make all reasonable efforts to contact the owner or the owner's representative and discuss its offer to purchase the property, including the basis for the offer of just compensation and explain its acquisition policies and procedures, including its payment of incidental expenses in accordance with § 24.106. The owner shall be given reasonable opportunity to consider the offer and present material which the owner believes is relevant to determining the value of the property and to suggest modification in the proposed terms and conditions of the purchase. The Agency shall consider the owner's presentation. (See appendix A, § 24.102(f).)
(g) Updating offer of just compensation. If the information presented by the owner, or a material change in the character or condition of the property, indicates the need for new appraisal information, or if a significant delay has occurred since the time of the appraisal(s) of the property, the Agency shall have the appraisal(s) updated or obtain a new appraisal(s). If the latest appraisal information indicates that a change in the purchase offer is warranted, the Agency shall promptly reestablish just compensation and offer that amount to the owner in writing.
(h) Coercive action. The Agency shall not advance the time of condemnation, or defer negotiations or condemnation or the deposit of funds with the court, or take any other coercive action in order to induce an agreement on the price to be paid for the property.
(i) Administrative settlement. The purchase price for the property may exceed the amount offered as just compensation when reasonable efforts to negotiate an agreement at that amount have failed and an authorized Agency official approves such administrative settlement as being reasonable, prudent, and in the public interest. When Federal funds pay for or participate in acquisition costs, a written justification shall be prepared, which states what available information, including trial risks, supports such a settlement. (See appendix A, § 24.102(i).)
(j) Payment before taking possession. Before requiring the owner to surrender possession of the real property, the Agency shall pay the agreed purchase price to the owner, or in the case of a condemnation, deposit with the court, for the benefit of the owner, an amount not less than the Agency's approved appraisal of the fair market value of such property, or the court award of compensation in the condemnation proceeding for the property. In exceptional circumstances, with the prior approval of the owner, the Agency may obtain a right-of-entry for construction purposes before making payment available to an owner. (See appendix A, § 24.102(j).)
(k) Uneconomic remnant. If the acquisition of only a portion of a property would leave the owner with an uneconomic remnant, the Agency shall offer to acquire the uneconomic remnant along with the portion of the property needed for the project. (See § 24.2(a)(27).)
(l) Inverse condemnation. If the Agency intends to acquire any interest in real property by exercise of the power of eminent domain, it shall institute formal condemnation proceedings and not intentionally make it necessary for the owner to institute legal proceedings to prove the fact of the taking of the real property.
(m) Fair rental. If the Agency permits a former owner or tenant to occupy the real property after acquisition for a short term, or a period subject to termination by the Agency on short notice, the rent shall not exceed the fair market rent for such occupancy. (See appendix A, § 24.102(m).)
(n) Conflict of interest.
(2) No person shall attempt to unduly influence or coerce an appraiser, review appraiser, or waiver valuation preparer regarding any valuation or other aspect of an appraisal, review or waiver valuation. Persons functioning as negotiators may not supervise or formally evaluate the performance of any appraiser or review appraiser performing appraisal or appraisal review work, except that, for a program or project receiving Federal financial assistance, the Federal funding Agency may waive this requirement if it determines it would create a hardship for the Agency.
(3) An appraiser, review appraiser, or waiver valuation preparer making an appraisal, appraisal review or waiver valuation may be authorized by the Agency to act as a negotiator for real property for which that person has made an appraisal, appraisal review or waiver valuation only if the offer to acquire the property is $10,000, or less. (See appendix A, § 24.102(n).)