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Narrative Report Writing 8 - Maps

by Administrator on Jan 9, 2014 Narrative Writing 1106 Views

Maps are an important part of narrative appraisal reports because they help report readers visualize things like; the market area, the site, the building (from above), relative size, site access points / curb cuts, shape, orientation, easements, water features, soils, adjoining and proximate influences (or lack thereof).

Acquiring general location maps, flood maps, soils maps, local Assessor plats and topography maps is usually easy, you can get most of them from federal, state, county and local governments, often on the Internet, and usually without worrying about copyright infringements.   You have to be more careful about privately owned maps that belong to Rand McNally, Google and others, they are protected by copyright.

I can’t list all of the sources for maps there a simply too many of them and they are of course specific to your state and locality, but maps from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) or more likely your state Department of Transportation (DOT), the US Government Survey (USGS), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Census are a few important sites. 

Many counties and cities have developed sophisticated digital interactive maps, some provide multiple layers that display; aerial photos, street maps, tax parcels, topography, water / power service lines, sewer lines and roadway details.  Learning how to use these interactive maps is important if you are an appraiser, you will need them on a regular basis and the better you can use them the better your reports will be.

I have seen many appraisal reports that include maps that were copied out of recognizable map books that everyone knows are copyright protected.  Since appraisals generally have a very limited audience, often one person or one firm, appraisers know that it's unlikely that anyone will see the map or care about the limited use of the material. 

Using copyrighted maps in your appraisal reports can however become a problem for you if your client decides to use your appraisal as a marketing tool and uses it in mass mailing or posts it online.  Then the one user that an appraiser imagined can turn into thousands, and your copyright infringement becomes public knowledge.  If your appraisal ends up becoming part of a court action it may become part of the court record which is a public record, some of the reports that are published also end up languishing on websites for years. 

I am familiar with a number of court cases dealing with stolen website content but never a case over a map copyright.  How much damage is done when you use one-off map?  Probably not much, but knowing the potential use of a report seems to me an important risk consideration.

Appraisers who know how to manipulate digital files and use Adobe Photoshop or a similar program can layer maps and create entirely new maps from base maps.  Being able to convert and modify digital files is in my opinion just as important for an appraiser to master as being able to fine them.      

Many appraisal programs have mapping integrated within them, so they automatically draw the subject and the comparable sales entered on the form on a map.  It works great for residential reports but isn't useful for commercial narrative reports.

For more appraisal information contact the author, Glenn Rigdon, MA, MRICS, ASA a Las Vegas / Henderson Nevada real property appraiser via email or via his business website Horizon Village Appraisal (http://www.horizonvillageappraisal.com), or you can also click on “Contact Us” on the home page of this website.

Article source: http://www.appraisalarticles.com/Narrative-Report-Writing/4417-Narrative-Report-Writing-8-Maps.html

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