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.
The Smiths are a retired couple who have worked hard all their lives. Mr. Smith worked for 40 years and drove a Coca-Cola truck for 30 of them. Mrs. Smith was a Medicare specialist in the local hospital for 25 years. They raised two children who now have kids of their own.
The Smith’s retired about a year ago and were looking forward to living out their golden years in, what they had assumed, would be their forever home. Many years ago, because of health and lifestyle reasons, the couple had specifically sought out this particular one-level home to live in. It was perfect for them.
It Started in the Early 1990s
Mrs. Smith recalled, “We moved to that house in 1989 …having no idea, no clue, never dreamt that big road was coming. So in the early ’90s we got this letter that said we could be in the path of a road. And we’re like, whaaat… this will never happen in our lifetime. Slowly but surely it happened. And it was postponed due to funding and I think the recession that we went through. So it kept getting backed up and backed up and backed up, and we thought still we might outlive it!”
This project is one of the many road projects in North Carolina with origins dating back to the early 1990s. It was planned. Then scrapped. Inched forward, and yanked yet again. Like many residents in the path of one of these hurry-up-and-wait road projects, the Smiths were worried they would not be able to sell their home. After all, who wants to buy property in the crosshairs of the NCDOT?
Finally, in 2017 the project moved forward. Fast.
Comps Selling in a Day
In this particular part of North Carolina, one-level homes are few and far between, and people tend to hold on to them like frequent flyer miles. Good luck finding one for sale.
But that is exactly what the Smiths found themselves doing when the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) sent them a letter explaining that the planned road was moving forward. They learned that the road would cut clean through their bedrooms.
Just a short time later the NCDOT gave the Smiths an offer for their home. Along with that offer, they presented a letter indicating that they may need to be out of that home in three months.
“Ninety days is not very long to find a house, purchase it, and move,” Mrs. Smith said. “We would see these cute little houses come on the internet, and we would go that very day just to ride by the house and check out the outside. And we would get there, and many times a Realtor would already be there showing the house. And it would sell that day, or within a few days. It was unreal,” Mrs. Smith recalled.
(So much for relaxing during retirement.)
At first the Smiths didn’t think they needed a lawyer to help them deal with the NCDOT. Even so, they went to some of the meetings put on by various law firms, just for information gathering. When they attended the free educational NC Eminent Domain Law Firm seminar explaining the rights of homeowners affected by this project, the Smiths soon realized they might be better off with our team helping them through this process.
They were “impressed” with Attorney Stan Abrams who was there to answer questions and offer the most up to date information available at the time.
Mrs. Smith said, “He came with maps, we all had a big map we could look at. He had more realistic dates of when he thought this might happen. He spoke to us in plain English, in terms that we understood. He didn’t come on to us as just a lawyer trying to get clients.”
The Smiths contacted us.
Mrs. Smith reasoned, “We thought, well, what have we got to lose? If they don’t get us more money than what the state offers initially, we haven’t lost anything, because their commission is paid off of the additional amount that they would get.”
The Smiths worked with Attorney Kenneth Bryan.
Despite all they had gone through as a result of this project, the NCDOT’s initial offer was not even enough to replace their home being taken. The Smiths knew it. Kenneth knew it. And the NCDOT knew it.
Kenneth, who is known among his colleagues as a real problem solver, worked to determine which areas the NCDOT experts might be undervaluing the Smiths’ property to try to determine a fair price and negotiate it and other terms for the loss of their home.
By law, when the NCDOT forces someone to relocate they have to look at the actual homes available on the market, and potentially make an increased offer called a relocation housing payment (RHP). This essentially makes up for the fact that the NCDOT’s appraisers often say property owners’ homes are less valuable than similar homes they could actually purchase if they have to move. This potential 2nd payment is a use it or lose it payment. In other words, if the extra amount brings you up to $160k in total, and you are able to purchase a new home for $150k, you aren’t entitled to the full $160k.
Kenneth Negotiates More Money and Better Terms
Kenneth was able to settle the case without having to go to court. He got the Smiths the full combined appraisal and full RHP amount without the use it or lose it strings attached. Additionally, the Smiths’ neighbors wanted to purchase part of their property that would not be affected by the road. And Kenneth helped ensure that part of their property wasn’t included in the settlement with the NCDOT.
The Smiths were thrilled with the outcome Kenneth was able to achieve for them. “Kenneth actually got us more money than what the state offered us,” Mrs. Smith said. “He was very polite and seemed very knowledgeable, prompt in his replies and answers. He was very helpful to us.”
These negotiations have enabled the Smiths to be able to settle into a new home and have extra money to make that home as nice as the one the state took for the new road. In fact, they were so happy with their outcome they have already told their neighbors who are also being affected by this same road project…
“That firm was great. Wonderful!”