Conservation and conservation easement appraisal has long been an area of interest for Michael Odom. Michael’s work experience with conservation easement appraisal began in 2004 as co-signatory in the preparation of reports for the Farm & Ranchland Protection Program. Since this time he has completed numerous conservation easement assignments annually for clients including private individuals, municipalities and non-profits. These reports have been prepared for federally-funded acquisition programs, for claims of charitable donations at the federal level, and for state tax credits applications. Likewise a number of these reports, notably those involving federal programs such as FRPP (retired), ACEP-ALE and ACEP-HFRP, have been subjected to scrutiny from state or federal reviewers. Michael is versed in with the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions (“Yellow Book”), pertinent Federal Treasury Regulations, the mandates of the Georgia State Properties Commission, and USPAP.
Properties evaluated during this time include woodlands, pastoral lands, cropland, orchard land, wetlands, and coastal property. In accord with the highest and best use and available data, we incorporate a variety of sophisticated methodologies to achieve credible results, including statistical regression, matched pairs, income modeling and direct (partial interest) sales comparisons. In addition to sales comparison, advanced income modeling is often employed in the valuation of lands for which the highest and best use is agricultural or silvicultural.
Conservation easements have unfortunately at times been a tool for abuse and taxpayer fraud. Beware of the promise of unrealistic valuations; in the eyes of the IRS the use of a credentialed appraiser does not absolve the donor of culpability. Before hiring a conservation easement appraiser be sure that they have not been sanctioned by the IRS and/or barred from testifying before the IRS or United States Tax Court. Over the last fifteen years dozens of conservation easement reports prepared by Michael Odom have been used in to claim federal income tax deductions for charitable donations. These reports have included high profile clients and multi-million dollar donations. Michael has twice been contacted by federal agents during this time period (once following a review of conservation easement appraisal) and in each instance the purpose of the call was to solicit assistance as an expert on behalf of the IRS. At Odom Real Estate Appraisal, Inc. we feel that fair federal scrutiny should be welcomed by conservationists as a means of maintaining systemic legitimacy, which is essential for sustainability.
As developmental pressures continue to escalate threats to delicate ecosystems, the public benefits of conservation have never been greater. Information on the benefits of conservation – both to the public and the land owner – are offered below.