V. P. Ringer

Duration: 1hr: 3Mins
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Uncorrected Transcript

cue point

Interviewee: VP Ringer
Interviewer: Mr. Cortwright
Date: January 19, 1975
Archive Number: OH 152.1

Interviewer
(This is the second session) (HPL_Ringer, VP-1976-OH152.2_01)
0:00:16.9 Mr. Ringer, when did you first become an appraiser?

VP Ringer
When one of the local attorneys in town called me in 1946 and told me that he wanted me to appraise an estate which he was handling. When I replied to him that I did not classify myself as an appraiser—that I was primarily a real estate broker and mortgage loan broker. His reply was as far as he was concerned I was the appraiser. I undertook to appraise the estate that he represented.

Interviewer
Had you any formal training at that time?

VP Ringer
None. That is not strictly true. (inaudible) mayor is H. James, Sr. At that time, I had been for years widely recognized as a knowledgeable, competent, and skilled real estate broker and had, also, acquired local acceptance as an appraiser. Before I left what was in 1943 Houston First Federal, Mr. James had served as the instructor for the employees of the local savings and loan associations, which had—or who had—become members of the American Savings and Loan Institute. That would have been in the days prior to 1943 and when the institute for employees of savings and loans associations or building and loan associations prescribed what was a rather formal set of courses that would relate to the building and loan business, one of them being an appraisal course. Mr. James was the instructor in appraisals. Beyond that, I had no formal education or training of any sort in the processes of appraisals.

 

Interviewer
How do you go about appraising a property? Do you have a mental checklist that you go through?

VP Ringer
Well, as you go along, or now, from the outset, the individual is made aware that there are formalized courses of study sponsored, particularly since 1932, by American Savings and Loan Institute and by the Society of Real Estate Appraisers. Within the past decade particularly, the Texas Association of Realtors has developed and conducts each year rather formalized courses of instruction, which among other courses that are related to the real estate business, include courses in appraisal of real estate. There is an indicated series of steps or processes which are included in the overall process of developing an appraisal of a particular piece of property and then reporting the opinion which the appraiser has developed as a result of the study and following the recommended steps. The initial step in the appraisal of a piece of real estate starts with an actual inspection of the property. The individual who winds up reporting in a formal sense his opinion or estimate of the market value of a specific piece of real property. It starts with the inspection and that, depending upon the type of property it is, can cover anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 or 4 days, depending upon the size and complexity of it. The process that is recommended to the appraiser, basically, is first to find out what the facts are about the property. That would be and would include the location of it, the legal description of it so that the property can be identified with a substantial degree of particularity, and the following steps include the creation in the mind of the appraiser the neighborhood of which the subject property is a part. It is my practice to define the parameters of the neighborhood. In this town, because of differences in the ages and extents of development of different parts of the town, there can be great differences between the forces which are operating on one piece of property as against the forces which, at the same time, are operating on another and different piece of property.

Interviewer
What size of a neighborhood are we talking about?

VP Ringer
0:07:56.5 It depends really upon, I think, the boundaries which to the appraiser seem to delimit the neighborhood. A freeway is a classic example of a boundary for the reason that the development on one side of the—or rather that the individual going from one area to another area may have to cross that freeway. A river is a classic example of a boundary. There are areas within this state where, perhaps, a canyon or a huge gulley pretty effectively serves as a boundary. There’s always been in Houston a distinction between land on the south side of Buffalo Bayou and land on the north side of Buffalo Bayou. Why? Development started on the south side of Buffalo Bayou, in reality. The initial trends in the development of Houston starting in 1836 were in relation to the spots or the locations, corners, streets, which were the beneficiaries of initial development of the city. The viaduct across Buffalo Bayou was created, according to the best information I was able to get from the City of Houston some months back, about 1919. Until the north main viaduct was completed and put into use, getting from the south side of Buffalo Bayou across to the north side was able to be accomplished by the Milam Street Bridge, which pre-dates the viaduct, and by the Preston Avenue Bridge, which also pre-dates the viaduct. So far as the initial residential trends are concerned, they started from--oh, call it--the intersection of Main Street and Commerce Avenue and trended south. It is interesting that in terms of the dates when they were created, why, the initial trends were west of Main Street and south from Commerce, Franklin, Commerce, Preston, but in 1873, there was a quite substantial residential and high-grade residential development east of Main Street. The railroads had something to do with it. A railroad can, also, provide a physical barrier or—yes—physical barrier in relation to the development on both sides of the track. The phrase on the wrong side of the tracks has been in American language and comments for a long, long time. The question of the restrictions on the use of the land can be answered by either the existence or non-existence of private deed restrictions on use. The demands for limitation of use of abutting land created by traffic can result in some limitations on the use of the front of the property created in connection with traffic control.

Interviewer
Let me ask you this. In general, do names denote neighborhoods? For example, is Montrose a neighborhood?

VP Ringer
0:13:27.4 Well, the last—probably the last 7 or 8 years—we’ll put it back to 1968--have seen the label Montrose area applied pretty loosely. Recently, or rather, I should say that when Montrose Edition was created in 1910, the parameters or the boundaries of Montrose Edition, as it was created and labeled were very precise. Very recently, I had occasion to ask a man what he considered to be the Montrose area because he had been active in properties in what we call the Hyde Park and Cherryhurst subdivision areas. He said, “Well, if I were defining the Montrose area, I would put Montrose Boulevard on the east. I would put Shepherd on the west. I would put West Gray or Gray Avenue on the north, and on the south the southwest freeway.”

Interviewer
That’s a big piece of land.

VP Ringer
That covers a pretty wide area of land, but it illustrates, I think, to a fact that within the last 7 or 8 years the term Montrose area has come to include far more than was defined by the original limit of Montrose Edition.

Interviewer
Is the same true of the Heights?

VP Ringer
0:15:50.3 Well, in my mind, not. I don’t think that there’s been enough market activity within the last year or so to create broadening the original limits of Heights Edition beyond the perimeters of it as it was original platted. Houston Heights at one time was a separate municipality. I don’t recall the year when—I’ve got it in the file--I could look it up—when the City of Houston annexed Houston Heights or it came into within the city limits. Adjoining the Heights on the north and east are the subdivisions of Woodland Heights, Norhill, Bayland Edition, and Houston Heights extends to about, I think, about 24th Street—maybe 25th—going north from Washington Avenue. On the east, it probably goes to Cortlandt NS. On the west, not as far west as Shepherd, because what’s called Heights Annex lies between the original west line of Houston Heights and the east line of Shepherd.

Interviewer
Sometimes these names are well-defined units; other times not?

VP Ringer
Well, the Spring Branch area initially—when I say initially I mean going back to about 1935, 36, 37—the Spring Branch initially included that portion of Memorial Drive immediately west of Post Oak, probably to Boss Road. The Spring Branch area was thought of initially as being the area of north of Katy Road, before it became IH10 around the intersection of Long Point Road and Camel Road, where the first school buildings for the Spring Branch school district were created. Initially, there was, as I recall, an elementary school and a combination junior high school around the intersection of Long Point and Camel Road. As time went along, which would begin probably about 1933 or 34, the Memorial area started being thought of as the area lying west of Post Oak Road and south of Katy Road to Buffalo Bayou. The Spring Branch area became identified as the land lying west of Post Oak Road, extending to Camel Road, but north of Katy Road.

Interviewer
Once you have ascertained the neighborhood the house is in, what sort of questions to do you ask about the neighborhood? Do you consider the schools, the racial composition, the water facilities?

VP Ringer
0:20:59.2 Well, the problems of street access to it have a bearing. Racial composition has to have a bearing; the type of development within the neighborhood a bearing; the question of whether it’s predominantly or the majority of the development is in apartment houses or whether the majority of the development is commercial. If the majority of the development is residential, what type of residential development—in the moderate cost range, in a cost range above that, into the moderately expensive, into the expensive range? The relation of access to schools and access to improved streets and public transportation all have a bearing on it. I built a house in 1931 out on Canterbury and Devonshire Place, which lies east of Brays Bayou and south of what has been Holcombe Boulevard for years. The nearest public transportation to that neighborhood—it was entitled to be defined as a neighborhood because west of it is Brays Bayou and south and east from it nothing but prairie. The nearest transportation was at the corner of Main Street and, what was then, Bellaire Boulevard, which was a good 2 to 2 ½ miles from anything in Devonshire Place. The only other public transportation was on Almeda with a bus line service what was then in 1931 Riverside Terrace and a residential development lying east of Almeda and served, in general terms, by public transportation in an era when domestic employees or domestic servants did not have their own private automobiles. Then, for the family employing domestic servants, either male or female, it was an advantage for the employee to be able to get to work and away from work by some means of public transportation. The distance of the houses in a neighborhood from public schools had a bearing. Ralph Lee is an attorney and long-time friend of mine. At one time he was mayor of West University Place. I had an appointment with him one morning, and he was a few minutes late—apologized and said he had been in a counsel meeting where it had been discussed and a matter of substantial moment to the West University Place counsel the question of bus routes. He had been discovering that everybody wanted a bus one block away from their houses.

Interviewer
That doesn’t work.

VP Ringer
0:25:35.3 The thinking was on a point of, yes, wanted a bus line pretty near, wanted shopping facilities pretty near, schools pretty near, but not too near. As a matter of fact, the development of Avalon Place, lying between Avalon Boulevard or Avalon Avenue, which borders the south line of the River Oaks Elementary School grounds—from there south the Westheimer—are houses fronting on Avalon Place or Boulevard—the case might be—didn’t sell as promptly as houses one block away from looking across the street at River Oaks Elementary School. As mobility of the Houston population has increased I don’t know, frankly, what in 1975 or 1976 would be the reaction of a family offered the opportunity of buying a house directly across the street from a high school or a public school or different type. Well, I guess—does that answer the question?

Interviewer
Yes. There was one other thing I was considering, and that was the quality of the schools. Does that affect your decision? For example, is a house outside of the HISD worth more than one inside?

VP Ringer
Word of mouth created a great deal of favorable attitude toward Spring Branch Independent School District. There were a great many people in recent years that have been influenced favorably toward the idea of buying a house within the geographical limits of Spring Branch school district because of the high regard in which Spring Branch Independent School District-- had. However, that was true before there came to be any question of the comparative quality of training and education offered by the Houston Independent School District as compared with the quality offered by Spring Branch. It was no so much, I think, that the quality of Houston Independent School District education was substantially deficient, so much as it was that the Spring Branch system was “a good” system. The appraiser appraising a house has a somewhat different problem that the appraiser appraising an apartment house or a shopping center or a piece of commercial property. I think this is probably true that a high percentage of the parents who can afford to put their children in private schools probably think about the possibility of doing that a good while.

Interviewer
May I ask you—it’s, perhaps, an unfair question--but could we put this in dollars and cents terms? If we have 2 identical structures, one in the HISD and the other in Spring Branch District, what is the difference in price? How much do these parents want to do that?

VP Ringer
0:31:20.7 Well, I think that the parents are pretty pragmatic. If one house is priced at $45,000 and another house providing reasonably the same amenities, in terms of construction size, mechanical equipment, etc, that if they can’t afford to pay more than $35,000, they don’t buy the house, whether it’s in HISD or another district. If they can pay $45,000, they might decide to pay the $45,000 and still send their children to a private school. I know very well one family that has 2 daughters, both of whom are in private school—one in Kinkaid and the other one in St. John’s. I think the reaction and the decisions are frequently based on either—I think probably mostly they’re based on emotion. I think a lot of times the emotions are paid too much attention to. Inevitably, there’s a question of the weight given by the parents to status—the question of the degree to which they can go to a reception or a dinner party or anything else and, if the conversation turns to the question of children and schooling, I think that with at least a measureable percentage of parents the choice is to be able to say, “Well, our children are in St. John’s” or “Our children are in Kinkaid” or our children are in some of the other—I mean Kinkaid and St. John’s are not the only private schools in Houston. I think sometimes it’s that rather than—I doubt that any substantial percentage of parents actually make a detailed investigation and form their own judgments as to the quality—so called—of education being provided.

Interviewer
You’ve brought up a very interesting point to my mind—the question of status. When people go to buy a house in Houston, are they thinking of the status of the neighborhood, as well? For example, will people pay money to say, “I live in River Oaks?”

VP Ringer
People have been paying money to say, “I live in River Oaks” for a good many years, and they still are—they still do.
Interviewer
When you appraise a house, do you take those intangibles into account? Do you tack on an extra couple thousand dollars just because the house is in River Oaks—other things being equal?

VP Ringer
0:35:31.6 Oh, no, no, because you don’t have to do that. The appraiser is not really put under any necessity of being a crystal ball gazer. As a matter of fact, the appraiser is taught to find out what the facts are--the physical facts that relate to the property as a very tangible thing, and, then, what has the market been doing? What prices have people been willing to pay for properties in a given subdivision? I think there are gradations. A realtor who has been and is quite active in the River Oaks subdivision, and I use River Oaks subdivision as distinct from River Oaks area. Buyers who want to buy in River Oaks are not satisfied, I think, with buying in the River Oaks area. The River Oaks area can be whatever you decide you want to call the River Oaks area. I doubt that there’s any distinction made now, but Avalon Place was developed between, well, as far as single-family dwellings is concerned and so far as the initial development, Avalon Place developed from Kirby Drive West to Belle Meade. Belle Meade is the north-south street that—between Westheimer and about to Chevy Chase. I think it ends, perhaps, at Chevy Chase. It is the east boundary of River Oaks between Belle Meade and Kirby and between San Felipe and Avalon Place—Edition—or Avalon Place, Street, or Avenue. In the 40s, the market made a distinction of, perhaps, as much as 15% between the price it would be willing to pay for a house with the same number of bedrooms, the same number of baths, the same age, the same general architectural type, and that same house in River Oaks because the house in Avalon Place was not a house in River Oaks.

Interviewer
Right.

VP Ringer
So, the market made a distinction in those days. In recent years, with the influx of population to Houston from other cities and other states, the distinction between a house in Avalon Place and a house in River Oaks has become blurred. At least, so far as the area between San Felipe on the north and Westheimer on the south and from Belle Meade west to River Oaks Boulevard. If you look at the platting, there is comparability between the platting in River Oaks Edition between Belle Meade and River Oaks Boulevard, and the platting from Belle Meade East to Kirby Drive. The lot sizes are substantially the same. When you get north of San Felipe and you get west of River Oaks Boulevard, on the end of Main, lot sizes are bigger, houses are bigger, prices are higher. Physically, the purchase of a house in Avalon Place is just as conveniently related to schools, public transportation, shopping, churches, all of the other things, as if it were across Belle Meade in River Oaks (inaudible).

Interviewer
Fifteen percent. That’s--or it used to be a lot to pay for the difference.

VP Ringer
0:41:17.1 Well, when you’re dealing with $20,000 to $25,000 or you’re talking about a difference of $3,000 to maybe $5,000 or maybe $4,000. That could be the difference.

Interviewer
There’s one other aspect of neighborhood evaluation that you mentioned earlier that I would like to discuss and that is racial composition. How do you take that into account?

VP Ringer
It depends on the census tract data. For example, I had to appraise a piece of light industrial property fronting on Griggs Road east of its intersection with OST in 1963, a part of it again in 1972, and all of it but by stipulation divided into 2 parts--one which fronted on north South Street and the other portion fronted on Griggs. In 1963, the racial mix in the census tracts within which that property was included, based on the 1960 census, was about 60% white by census tracts--took in a whole lot more area geographically (interruption on tape) based on a 1960 census. In 1970, the 1970 census, in those same census tracts the percentage of—in so far as the census tracts were concerned, they classify them as Negro, as persons with (talking at once)—

Interviewer
Spanish—

VP Ringer
Latin-Spanish surnames and white. Well, in the 1970 census, the white population accounted for 2% of the population in those 2 census tracts. The appraiser is obliged to consider what that data indicates—that is, just as facts. You’re looking at the facts that are reported by the Census Bureau. The data provided by the Census Bureau goes beyond just the racial mix and includes the median rent range, the median value of the properties--.
Interviewer
Income.

VP Ringer
Income. That’s right. As well, as the average number of persons per family. Those other factors help to provide the appraiser with fact data upon which he can then form his opinion of the effects on value. Again, depending on the type of property he’s dealing with—in that case it was light industrial use—there is a question of the traffic volume on the abutting streets. Well, between the 1960 census and the 1970 census, changes occurred in so far as traffic volume was concerned. The south loop had been opened, as I recall, in 1969. No, it must have been later than that. In any event, the contrast between the traffic volume on Griggs Road, on Calhoun, on Cullen, on OST, the traffic volume summaries that are published by the City of Houston once each year at the beginning of the year—the count indicated drops or declines in traffic volume ranging from about 24% or 25% to as much as 55% over that period of time. For strictly residential property, for traffic to decline it could be argued if—you could make a case for that--making property front abutting on that thoroughfare more desirable than if the traffic volume had continued to increase. The contrary is true for a property the use of which is oriented to high volume retail use or a light industrial or warehousing or distribution use. The growth of commercial properties along the frontage roads or freeways created in Texas Highway Department the practice and policy in recent years—I’d say in the last 10 or 11 years—that contrary to taking an easement for the right-of-way desired by the Highway Department, it takes the fee, so that in terms of developing a freeway facility to serve the function which a freeway facility actually is designed to serve, and that is to carry high-speed traffic with a maximum degree of safety. The Highway Department developed a policy and a practice of restricting access to abutting land, particularly around intersections and interchanges, and frequently on the frontage roads leading to intersections or bridge separation because for some types of business abutment on a heavily traveled freeway or the frontage road serving the freeway carries definite advertising value, in addition to the mechanical facility of being able to get immediately to a high-speed freeway facility. Motels, in determining a location, will pay a great deal of attention to the problems of access, which means exit ramps or access ramps in relation to the type of facility the propose to build.

Interviewer
0:50:13.1 Right.

VP Ringer
A property with limitations on access to exit from a freeway facility might suffer on the market as compared with one that is, perhaps, closely neighboring it.

Interviewer
There are a couple other questions I wanted to ask about racial composition before we got too far away from the topic. When a neighborhood turns or tips, does it always adversely affect the property values?

VP Ringer
0:51:01.6 Well, I don’t think it would be correct to say that it always adversely affects because of the differences that might exist in the existing development compared with what is promised, we’ll say, by the new facility. I think it would be quite possible to find areas within the city of Houston in which access to a freeway facility has been there for several years, but which has not had any measurable effect on the neighborhood in close relation to that facility. There is a report in my files, maybe the Texas Highway Department, on the effects on value had by the Gulf Freeway, which was opened along its entire length south of Houston about 1952. I think I’m correct in saying that that report has, or rather had, because the report came out several years after Gulf Freeway was opened, had an upward effect on the value of land extending a mile on either side of the freeway facility. However, if you go from here to Pierce and turn east on Pierce as a frontage road providing access to Gulf Freeway. If you check the prices at which properties have sold over the past 10 years, between, say, Hamilton and Live Oak, going east, which takes you across Dowling--well, Live Oaks is the next one east of and parallel to Dowling—perhaps, to St. Emmanuel—no, not St. Emmanuel—Dowling, Live Oak, probably Delano--I doubt that you would find any particular increase in the value of properties in there, even though for that period of time they have had what could be called immediate access to the Gulf Freeway. You go on down to Gulf Freeway to, say, past Cullen—past what used to be St. Bernard onto the 60-hundred block and the 61, 62—the situation is different. The prices have not escalated sharply, but they have, nevertheless, escalated. Largely, I think that is because when you get that much farther south, as it were, on the Gulf Freeway, land is available in larger tracts than when you come closer into town and have to deal with putting together 50 x 100 foot lots or small tracts, in any event, whether they are 5,000 or 20,000-25,000 square feet. Developers, including entrepreneurs, have a tendency to play their cards pretty close to their belt on a proposition, “Well, that’s a clean area.” The use of it is not complicated by already existing structures. You can find that true, I think, along Montrose Boulevard south from Richmond to the circle—to the art museum. Although, physically, land abutting Montrose Boulevard on either side is very useful because of it being fairly close in and immediate access to all of the major thoroughfares and not directly accessible to southwest freeway until you get to—well, actually, until you get to Shepherd and Greenbriar.

Interviewer
Are traffic flow and road configurations the most important aspects of the neighborhood in terms of appraising them?

VP Ringer
0:57:41.9 I don’t know what you mean by that question.

Interviewer
Well, we’ve discussed a number of effects on the neighborhood—the school situation, racial composition, traffic, roads—of those elements that we have discussed, are the roads the most important consideration—in your mind as you appraise a property?

VP Ringer
Well, the appraiser has the problem of getting all of the facts, and there is a point—which you have not asked the question—that is a very important part of the appraiser’s assignment is to investigate the deed records in order to get at the source of information on who has bought, who has sold, when, where, and for how much. The appraiser always is dealing with history, even though a part of that history might be a sale that occurred just last week or day before yesterday or even yesterday. From the—what he calls the market data—the appraiser gets and overview of what buyers and sellers have been doing—the prices that sellers have obtained, the prices that buyers have been willing to pay. Inevitably, the use to which the buyer has already put the property or the use that the buyer intends for it—if the buyer be what’s called a user. If the buyer is speculating, he doesn’t plan to put the property to any particular use. He wants to buy it at a price that he considers to be favorable with the idea that after, typically, 6 months’ passage of time, he might be able to sell it for more money. The appraiser has to—he is on notice that there is a major thoroughfare and freeway plan published at—not set intervals—there is one being developed now by the City Planning Department, which will replace the latest edition now currently available, which bears the date 1972. That major thoroughfare and freeway plan indicates a plan which the Planning Department considers to be practical and practicable in the development of the major thoroughfare and freeway system serving the city. So far as the freeways are concerned, they pretty much lay defined. The only one now under construction is the south freeway, extending south toward Angleton and Freeport. Through population growth, some of the major streets may reach the point where their rights-of-way have to be widened or the width of the traffic lanes within the existing right-of-way has to be enlarged. The appraiser is on notice that there might be a plan for altering the relation of that major thoroughfare and freeway plan to the particular piece of property he is appraising. Richmond Avenue some years back was extended from a point where it intersects Rice Avenue or Rice Road or Rice Street—it’s been called all those things—extending Richmond Avenue on west from there. That’s been done now to where Richmond extends past Chimney Rock—I’m not certain without actually checking it whether it extends on farther to west to Gessner or not. If the major thoroughfare and freeway plan indicates a plan later for widening, and that’s based on a legend that’s shown on a map. Say, Richmond Avenue—the appraiser would be well advised to inquire of the Planning Department what priority that extension has, if any. The remodeling of Almeda-Genoa Road from Telephone Road East to the Gulf Freeway became a project of Harris County commissioners, now, 15 years ago. It just got bounced around and bounced around—all sorts of conversation about it—for several years. Finally, Harris County agreed to turn over to the City of Houston jurisdiction for the acquisition of additional right-of-way and the remodeling of Almeda-Genoa. There was actually a contract let for that, I think, a little more than a year ago. It was held up for months because of a drainage problem that developed between the City of Houston and the Texas Highway Department where Almeda-Genoa Road does actually intersect Gulf Freeway. The thing was held up until they got that drainage problem solved and settled and could proceed with construction. They have been speculating buying, all along I’d say, the projected remodeled right-of-way of Almeda-Genoa between Telephone and Gulf Freeway. The appraiser given the assignment of appraising a piece of property abutting on Almeda-Genoa Road 3 years ago would be derelict in his obligation if he did not check into the status of planning for that remodeling and try the best he could to get some idea of the time that it would take before that planning actually reached a construction stage.

Interviewer
1:06:31.8 Let me ask you another question. Earlier, you mentioned that you went back through the deeds to get some idea of the market value of the homes—what they have been selling for in that area?

VP Ringer
I used the phrase market data.
Interviewer
Market data. In this process, you notice that the deed restrictions in an area no longer obtained—for example, Denver Harbor, we talked about that last time? Does that influence your appraisal?

VP Ringer
1:07:03.0 Well, it depends upon the fact situation. Investigating, typically, through one of the title companies, would develop the facts that the deed restrictions in that particular subdivision have expired or they have not. If they have, the appraiser doesn’t have to worry about whether the property is subject to use restrictions.

Interviewer
But, that might adversely affect the value of the property?

VP Ringer
Well, it would depend upon the neighborhood. It would depend upon what is an apparent trend. Ferndale extends from Westheimer south to Colquitt, crossing West Alabama in the process. South of West Alabama along Ferndale and Virginia, extending to Colquitt is David Crockett Subdivision. Along those 2 streets, the deed restrictions by reason of the original set appointment are still in effect between West Alabama and Westheimer. Along Ferndale and Virginia, there are no deed restrictions. Between West Alabama and Westheimer, the land uses along both of those streets is mixed. There is some commercial use, some single-family dwelling still there, some—one in particular has been changed into being a private day school. South of West Alabama to Colquitt, along both Ferndale and Virginia, the houses in there are well-maintained, excellently maintained. The land use is entirely single family residential use. It could be said that if you started at Colquitt and drove north to West Alabama and continued to Westheimer, there is a very great difference between the types of use and, in some degree, the maintenance of the properties. There is a mixed use between Alabama and Westheimer, whereas from Alabama south it is entirely single family, well-maintained dwellings. The result is that for an individual wanting the amenities that accompany a single family dwelling, that individual would much prefer and pay more money for a house between Alabama and Colquitt than a house between Alabama and Westheimer, unless that individual wants to convert that land use into some type of commercial use. Where a dwelling is demolished and an entirely new structure built, then there (interruption on tape)—

Interviewer
We were on land use.

VP Ringer
1:11:26.7 Where a new structure is built, that use is a definitive use. Where an existed dwelling is converted to being commercial in type, the result so far as an observer is concerned can be either good or bad. It depends on the care and the resources of the buyer, actually, in accomplishing the change.

Interviewer
Have you ever witnessed a case in the neighborhood that was mixed—that went over toward a residential neighborhood? I suppose, technically, you would call it filtering up or—

VP Ringer
Now, wait a minute (talking at once).

Interviewer
--was started mixed, and then it became all single-family residential? In other words, is the process reversible? I can see a case where the deed restrictions lapse and, then, experience mixed use, but does it ever work the other way?

VP Ringer
Well, I think I would be foolish to say that it never works the other way. You could say that Main Street is an example of the fact is reversible. Travis, Milam, and (inaudible), and Caroline, are examples, for the reason that 40—50 years ago some of the finest houses in Houston were built on Main Street and occupied by their owners. Sears store is on a block of ground that was the—I think was the Sharp home—a great big 2-story frame house on a block of ground, shrubbery, trees—rated as one of the finest homes in Houston. The Scandonlin (??) sisters, whose father at one time was mayor of Houston and who died a quite wealthy man, occupied a large, fine—for the ear when it was built—home on the northeast corner of the intersection of Main Street and Pierce Avenue. That block is now occupied by the garage of the Houston Citizens Bank building, extending from Calhoun south to Pierce, with the west half of the block being an open parking lot. I don’t think it’s a public parking lot. I think there is some—it may be for the employees of Houston Citizens Bank and Trust. I forget what was on the corner--the southeast corner--of Jefferson and Main, which is the corner now occupied by the Houston Citizens Bank building, but the southwest corner of intersection of Main and (inaudible) is still occupied by the Beaconsfield Apartments, which were rated for the time as very expensive and very exclusive apartments--I think that building is, perhaps, 5 or 6 stories tall--when I first came to Houston in 1921. If you went back and dug back, the Jones Lumber Company had its retail lumber yard on the southwest corner of the intersection of Main and Lamar until about 1934 or ‘5. It was replaced by the new banking building of ______ ?? Trust Company and that corner is now part of the Foley’s block, boundaried by Lamar, Main, Dallas, and Travis. The—I forget what it is called now—the Capital National Bank on the southwest corner of Main and Polk—was until that bank building was built, which was about 1958, occupied by a residence. You could say that that’s reversible or, rather, that’s an example of the fact that it can go from single-family dwelling to a higher and better use in an economic sense. The highest or best use is always an economic thing. It’s the use that will yield the most profit.

Interviewer
1:18:42.8 Let me ask you one general question, mainly out of curiosity. Where do you get most of your business?

VP Ringer
Referrals. It is against the appraiser—that is against the Institute and society’s code of ethics for the appraiser to solicit business. He gets it by referrals. I mentioned the first—what could be called formal independent fee appraisal assignment I had was in 1946. It’s a combination of if the question arises, “I need a piece of property appraised.” Well, the client may say, “Well, call Ringer,” or there may arise a discussion of appraisers and that attorney might say, “Well, I got Ringer to do an appraisal for me, and he turned in a good job. He could probably do it.”

Interviewer
Why do most people contact you for an appraisal? Is it strictly for real estate purposes, or sometimes do you handle an estate—someone passes away?

VP Ringer
Well, now. Mr. Cortwright. I was just going to ask you, what in your mind is a real estate appraisal’s purpose? The vast majority of business decisions involving real estate are made on a basis of an appraisal. If a governmental agency, whether it be the city, the school district, county, state, starts in on an acquisition program of real estate, under the laws, the price paid for the real estate acquired must be the market value of the property. The condemnor—city, state, county, school district, or what—pipeline company—is in a position, of course, of wanting to acquire the property for as moderate cost as possible. The owner—it wouldn’t make any difference what purpose—if there came up the question of disposing of the property, he would want to get the highest price he could be able to get. So, the appraiser is by specification to be impartial and unbiased. If the condemnor wants land, the condemnor starts out putting together a group of appraisers. Based on those appraisals, the condemnor determines an offer to be made to the land owner. The land owner may have a very definite idea about what is the market value of his property. He may have no idea about it. The first time he hears about it, it may come out of the clear and blue—the first time he knows—whichever governmental agency it is wants to acquire his property. He is under no legal compulsion to hire an appraiser. He can negotiate with the condemnor, and if he considers himself to be knowledgeable enough and informed enough, he can wind up negotiating a price which is satisfactory to him. He may be so completely uninformed that he has no recourses—as a practical matter—he has no recourse except to hire somebody to appraise it for him to put him in a situation then on a basis of the facts that are set out in the opinions—that are set out in the appraisal report—put him in a position of being able to negotiate with the condemnor. Most of my work is with estates and the attorneys representing estates. I do a lot of work with trust officers of the banks. I say the banks, typically. I have done most of the work I’ve done with banks through either First City National or Texas Commerce or Houston Citizen’s Bank. The appraiser gets to know the trust officers, attorneys, maybe some individual in a bank that looks after the real estate in which the bank is interested. In the case of attorneys representing estates, it can be a question involving capital gains tax or the extent of the inheritance and estate taxes that the estate must pay. Sometimes, the estate will include a single parcel of real estate. Sometimes, it will include a wide range of them. I didn’t—in anticipation of your visit, but in this question of moving, a lot of files that I hadn’t seen for years came to light—

1:25:59.4 (end of audio)