670 miles. That’s the distance along the U.S.-Mexico border that the Department of Homeland Security wants to cordon off with its 18-foot-high border fence. The sheer size of this massive undertaking and the number of property owners already disputing the government’s valuations has led to a severe shortage of qualified appraisers, particularly in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.
The Justice Department expects about 270 condemnation lawsuits against local landowners with the potential for 80 holdouts that could go to trial next spring. But there’s a catch: Uncle Sam has already got the Valley’s largest appraisal firm on retainer. That means for many landowners, the only option is an expensive one: an out-of-town appraisal firm, which could cost upwards of $10,000.