Real estate professionals who are prospective expert witnesses face a new set of rules in gaining admissibility of their evidence and opinion into court. For many years, the credentials of the real estate expert were the primary criterion to qualification as an expert, and a single testimony often “validated” one as an expert in court. Seven decades after the initial standards were established, the U.S. Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals announced that the Federal Rules of Evidence were to be the standard for admitting expert scientific testimony in a federal trial, a standard since adopted by many state courts. Expansion of the Daubert principal by the U.S. Supreme Court this year to non-scientific experts, including real estate valuation professionals, changes the landscape and raises the admissibility bar for appraiser opinions. With real estate valuation increasingly being litigated, the criteria for experts today is particularly important. This article outlines the foundations for admission of evidence and opinion to court, and offers guidelines for real estate professionals who seek to have such evidence admitted.
Authors: David G. McLean, John A. Kilpatrick, & Bill Mundy
Originally published in Real Estate Issues, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Fall 1999)