When the government initiates the acquisition process, it will attempt to negotiate the purchase of your property just like any buyer might. If you and the government cannot agree on a price, though, the government can proceed with eminent domain. Keep in mind that the government is like any buyer, it will want to buy your property as cheaply as it can.
When the government makes you an offer, it will tell you that it represents fair market value. It may even show you an appraisal. But be aware, appraisals can vary, and the governments may be a low one. If you reject the government’s offer, it still has to pay you that money, and this does not jeopardize your right to get more money in the eminent domain hearing.
Eminent domain formally begins when the government starts a lawsuit to take your property. These lawsuits do not affect your credit rating or allege that you have done anything wrong. DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED BY A THREAT OF EMINENT DOMAIN. Once the government initiates eminent domain, you will need to retain an eminent domain lawyer to help you obtain just compensation. Most lawyers work on a contingent fee basis, where the lawyer takes one-third of the additional money they recover for you.
Property owners are usually responsible for costs, with the primary cost being the expert(s) used to determine the value of the claim, such as an appraiser. In some states, your attorney’s fees and costs are paid for by the government if you are successful at pursuing a claim. Select your state to learn more.
Property owners who are forced to relocate their home or business are also entitled to relocation benefits. Relocation is an administrative process established by the condemning authority that varies widely from city, county and state. Normal relocation benefits include actual moving of personal property and reestablishment costs. A claim for relocation benefits is independent of the eminent domain additional damages claim and is typically negotiated between the property owner and the condemning authority. In some cases, a residential property owner could be entitled to significantly more than what they could receive through negotiations with the condemning authority. Also, complex relocations do arise for businesses with expensive fixtures and equipment. In these situations, it may become necessary for an owner to enlist the help of an eminent domain expert to calculate and negotiate these costs with the condemning authority. Learn more about relocation benefits in eminent domain.
Whether you sell your property to the government before eminent domain formally begins or let them take it by eminent domain, the law requires that the government pay you just compensation for your property. DO NOT ACCEPT LESS. You should know that just compensation often involves a wide range of issues which government appraisers may neglect to consider, such as highest and best use, or damages to your remainder parcel.
When determining the size of your claim, we review the government’s appraisal to determine if the direct and indirect (severance) damages were identified and valued accurately. If they failed to consider damages that lead to a higher amount of just compensation, we’ll identify and quantify these damages to determine the size of the claim.
We review appraisals from property owners around the country on an ongoing basis. Our skill in damage claim analysis allows us to quickly assess the strengths and weaknesses in appraisal reports and provide a thorough case analysis to property owners.
Frequently an owner will only receive full compensation by allowing condemnation to occur. In condemnation an owner can show that the rules for highest and best use will produce a higher price than the amount offered by the government. In many states an owner’s attorney fees can also be paid by the government. Continue reading to learn more about attorney fee recovery in your state. If you’re instincts tell you that your offer is too low, it probably is. DO NOT BE PRESSURED TO TAKE A LESSER AMOUNT BY THE THREAT OF EMINENT DOMAIN.
Whether you hire an attorney depends upon your case. If you have an inverse condemnation case, or if you’re challenging the government’s right to take, then yes, you need an attorney. If the government gives you a ‘low ball’ offer and you want to pursue additional compensation, then you’ll need an eminent domain attorney to guide your through the eminent domain process and help you properly interface with the condemning authority. You will also need assistance with determining the size of your claim, identifying the necessary experts, negotiating your case, and taking your case to trial if negotiations cannot be reached.
Don’t be surprised if you’re unable to quantify or assess your damages; no one expects you to be an expert on land valuation in eminent domain cases. In fact, the government is counting on this.
Most eminent domain attorneys conduct a free case evaluation prior to recommending representation. Armed with this information, you decide whether it’s worthwhile to hire an attorney and pursue your claim. Continue reading to learn more about the costs and fees incurred when pursuing a claim.
An owner can only afford to hire an attorney in this situation on a contingent fee basis, but many attorneys won’t take such a case or will only argue to go so far as negotiating a settlement. The condemning authority knows this and has little incentive to move off the “low ball” offer. The motivation to negotiate honestly, and even avoid low ball offers to begin with, increases significantly if the condemning authority can be liable for the attorney’s fees incurred by the property owner.
These statutes allow property owners to recover 100% of their claim by forcing the government to pay their attorney’s fees and in some states, their costs. Even if your state does not require the government to pay costs and fees, you can still hire an attorney on a contingent fee basis. With a contingent fee structure, the attorney only gets paid if they are successful at obtaining additional just compensation. In this situation, their fee is typically one-third of the recovery. Learn more about our fees.
You should know that your rights as a property owner vary significantly by state. Also, the eminent domain process differs between states, and in some states attorney fee’s will be reimbursed by the condemning authority. Because the law is unique in each state, we have devoted the remainder of our website to providing you with state specific information on the eminent domain process, your property rights, and attorney fee recovery.
Please select your state to learn more.
|New Hampshire||New Jersey||New Mexico||New York|
|North Carolina||North Dakota||Ohio||Oklahoma|
|Oregon||Pennsylvania||Rhode Island||South Carolina|