Monday, May 05, 2008

An Appraisal Problem

Doing real estate appraisal in rural Mississippi has been good for learning how to figure values on the fly. I envy those guys that do appraisals with 3 comps on the same street that are exactly alike, but the rural appraiser has to do it differently. This is Oddball appraising at its best.
Lots of appraisers I meet use books and websites to get cost square foot values etc., but basically I threw mine away a long time ago. Yesterday I had a problem that stuck in my head and I decided to figure it out for the future in case it was ever brought up and I could show everyone how smart I thought I was.
Here is the problem.
A piece of land I am appraising has a small family cemetery on it that has been abandoned for about 50 years. The headstones show that the people were buried here up to a little over one hundred years ago.
Now on cattle land or timber land this is not a real problem to appraise. Trees can grow up around the headstones and no one really cares. Cattle can eat grass there as well as anywhere else. The cemetery is a negative to the property. You can't develop that parcel and Arsenic was used for embalming which is an environmental hazard. Usually after I get a value, I take the price per acre and subtract an acres value to get the total. This shows basically that the area with the cemetery has no value.
The cemetery is an encroachment that is a negative to the property.
The property in this case is commercial, which is a whole new ball of wax.
This made me think of growing cities that face moving these graves as an everyday thing and what it would entail. I figured there were probably 15 graves here.
Off the top of my head I guessed the cost to move them would be $1000 to $2000 per grave. This is what I found out.
1. Get permit/ permission from county coroner. Many coroners in rural Mississippi do that job part time and have no clue about dealing with this.
2. Apply with Sec. of State (another permit)
3. Contact Health Dept. and Dept of History/Archives? This is for any historical info and for disease related issues from the time that the people died. (more permits)
4. Research/ post notices to any member of that family that may survive and get written authorization from them to remove the bodies.
5. Contact local funeral home to transport each coffin or bag of dust/dirt/bones
6. Arrange for removal and setting of the old headstones and for markers if they are gone.
7. Contract with burial service to dig the graves out. ($700-$1000 per grave here)
8. Purchase plots in another cemetery for the bodies to be reburied.
9. These are just some of the hurdles and with a little luck the cost could be kept down. I am sure there are a few more permits to be purchased and the funeral home will need to be paid too.
10. Final Cost is probably around $1500-$2000 per grave.
11. cost-to-cure on 15 graves is around +/- ($20,000-$25,000 with a max of $30,000


Michelle Rene said...

I once read an article about the crazy amounts of red tape, time and money it costs to move a grave. It is shocking. Some families are tied in legal limbo for years.

Matt said...

Yes, but what is the value of the property for use as a setting for scary stories?

JDP said...

Every time a new lake or reservoir of any size is built here in Texas it seems like they have to move one or more cemeteries. So I guess it can be done. Probably have to jump through a bunch of hoops and I am sure it is costly.


GUYK said...

yeah, and that's why I say there is a lot to be said about just cremating the stiff and spreading the ashes

Rhonda said...

Good research Rex Howell! Sounds like a fun appraisal assignment. I'm glad I have those cookie cutter assignments. LOL