Condemnation 101: How is my property appraised for eminent domain taking?
Condemnation, or eminent domain, is a complicated legal process that involves taking your land for public use. However, the government cannot just take your land. The law requires that just compensation be provided in an eminent domain taking. How "just compensation" is defined is usually a matter of interpretation, and it is often at the center of legal disputes over eminent domain.
The N.C. Department of Transportation or another condemning authority will get an appraisal of your property to determine its value and the just compensation it thinks you deserve. Just compensation is defined as the fair-market value of your property, which is the price that a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller in an open market.
However, there are several reasons why the appraisal offered to you during condemnation may not be an accurate reflection of the fair-market value of your property.
Real-estate valuation is not an exact science. What one appraiser believes your property is worth may not coincide with what another appraiser thinks it is worth. In our experience, appraisers working for the NC DOT or other government agency may make a case for a lower value of your property, which may favor the government in an eminent domain taking. Just like any buyer, the government may want to buy your property for as little as possible.
When determining the value of your property, appraisers must also consider its highest and best use, as well as any damages you may experience to the remaining property. In our experience, these two factors may often be judged incorrectly in condemnation proceedings.
In most cases, people sell their property with the expectation of similar use. In other words, a home will be sold to be used as a home, a business a business. However, if a home is in a prime piece of real estate, it may actually sell for much more to someone interested in using the land for a high-rise condo or an industrial plant. This would be the highest and best use of the property. Appraisers must take these factors into consideration in an eminent domain taking.
Finally, condemnation appraisers must consider damages to the remaining property when considering the value of a property. For example, if 20 acres of a 100-acre farm is required for a project, the condemning authority must pay the value for those 20 acres in addition to the value of damages experienced by the remaining land. Those 20 acres may have contained the most fertile soil for that farm, or losing those acres may mean the farm can no longer raise cows. These damages must be calculated when determining property value in an eminent domain taking.
North Carolina Condemnation Lawyers
If you have recently learned that your property is scheduled to be taken for an eminent domain project, we encourage you to contact the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm to find out how we may be able to help you protect your legal rights and fight for the full compensation that you may deserve for your property. Call 1-877-393-4990 today for a free evaluation of your case.