How we helped increase the NCDOT’s initial offer by 2,085% through research and negotiation1
Cases or matters referenced do not represent the law firm’s entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or law firm’s past results.
Why does the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) make lowball offers? In many situations, it may be because they are in a hurry or get careless.
Maybe it’s a little bit of both, maybe it’s neither.
No matter the situation, the government always has to justly compensate the owner based upon the impact to the highest and most valuable use of the property being taken. That much is enshrined in our Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. And that’s essentially what the hardworking attorneys and paralegals at the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm try to do – they fight for your right to just compensation if you have to give up your property.
Take, for example, Mr. Anthony “Tony” Dickens’s story. What started as a $1,975 offer became a $43,150 settlement with our intervention.
Somebody’s made a huge mistake. That’s not right!
Tony inherited a 6.5-acre property with 300 feet of road front from his father back in 1981. The property remained vacant and undeveloped, but in the last five to six years, he had begun exploring the option of selling the entire plot — at a fair and reasonable price.
He worked with two different realtors, and the best number they could come up with was between $30,000 to $40,000 total.
Here’s the kicker: Tony had spoken to a representative about developing the property for commercial use, which put the value of the entire 6.5 acres right around $700,000.
You can imagine his dismay at the fact that, try as they might, the realtors only found the property to be worth less than a quarter of what those developers proposed. Tony dropped the issue then, and waited to see if the economy would make a turn for the better or if conditions improved.
Enter the NCDOT.
The NCDOT proposed expanding the road that fronts Tony’s property from two lanes to five lanes. The state needed a 0.328 acre chunk of his property for new right of way— and offered a measly $1,975.
“Not $19,000… not $190,000… $1,975! At that point [Tony] said ‘Whoa, surely somebody’s made a huge mistake. That’s not right!’”
Turning the Tide Against the NCDOT’s Lowball Offer
Tony received a brochure from the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm a few months prior to the NCDOT’s contact, and he kept those materials in his briefcase. He told himself that when the time came, he’d call the firm.
NC Eminent Domain Law Firm Attorney Stan Abrams interceded on Tony’s behalf. Stan and his very capable legal team analyzed and studied Tony’s property and proposed $40,000 to $50,000 for what they were going to take.
The NCDOT rejected the proposition, saying it was too high, and offered a little over $20,000. What wasn’t showing in the records was the fact that the property had been valued for commercial use, and that it had been rezoned from residential to commercial some years before.
“I told Stan that I personally went before our local city council two years back and had that property moved from residential to commercial, and it’s sitting beside a community center, etc. It’s just got to be worth more that. I showed him the rezoning records, and that really turned the tides in my favor. From there, he was able to advocate for me against the NCDOT,” Tony said.
Stan knew that property adjacent to Tony’s property had already been developed for commercial use. In the end, for the 0.328 acre slice of his property, he received $43,150, from an initial offer of $1,975. Moreover, through Stan’s negotiations, Tony’s (previously denied) request to have the NCDOT create a cut-in for his driveway was honored, so he wouldn’t have to petition the state later for an driveway cut and pay thousands of dollars to do it themselves.
“I received my check and am very happy with the outcome.”
What About Others Affected by NC Eminent Domain Laws?
Tony is an intelligent, knowledgeable man who knew when he was being taken advantage of. But others around him may not have known that they deserved (or maybe entitled to) more compensation.
“There’s a family that lives across the street, and this project is going to eat their yard. They would literally step out their front door and into the line of traffic. I’m pretty sure the DOT is buying their house, but the couple I spoke to are in their 70s, they’ve lived in that house all their life, and it’s more than just a building to them. No amount of money’s going to change that, I know; but at the same time, I felt bad that they may get offered $10,000 for their whole property and they’d take it if they didn’t know any better.”
Since then, Tony has advised his neighbors and other landowners to contact the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm if they have dealings with the NCDOT.
Why Did Tony Call Us?
Tony contacted us because he read one of the brochures we send out to property owners affected by an NCDOT project.
“I got a picture of what the firm is about, who I’d be working with, and how they’d proceed with my case. Because of that, I thought, ‘These are the people I need to be doing business with.’”
Meanwhile, all of the NCDOT’s interactions with him were through letters and one phone call or two. It is that kind of personal touch that we encourage and live every day at the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm. Our clients mean a lot to us, so we try to foster a good relationship with each and every one of them, even long after their matter has settled.