Legal Update 2020
Instructor: John Henderson
Appeal of Lower Court Decision Regarding Abilities of a Real Estate Broker
N.C. DOT v. Mission Battleground Park, DST, 370 N.C 477, 810 S.E.2d 217 (2019)
Supreme Court of North Carolina
Facts: Defendants were current and former owners, a lessee, and the mortgage holder of a property condemned by the NC DOT in order to construct a highway. Defendants argue the $276,000 compensation for the taking was not just and demanded a trial to determine the correct amount of damages. At trial, Defendants sought to introduce Collins, a licensed real estate broker, to testify about fair market value for the property before and after the taking. The DOT moved in limine to exclude the testimony and the trial court granted their motion based on real estate license law NCGS §93A-83 which governs the practice of real estate brokers providing broker price opinions and comparative market analyses. The trial court did not analyze any of the real estate broker's proposed fair market value testimony under Rule 702 of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence.
Issue: Whether a licensed real estate broker may testify as an expert witness about fair market value under Rule 702 of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence.
Held: The trial court erroneously invoked sub- section 93A-83(f) to exclude Mr. Colllins' expert testimony. The authority of a broker (or anyone else) to prepare an expert report and testify as an expert does not come from Chapter 93A. That authority instead comes from Rules of Evidence 702 and the cases that set out the standard for admission of ex- pert testimony under that rule. Any person who can qualify as an expert under that standard, which is articulated in pertinent case law, can testify without having to invoke any other source of authority.