Private appraiser

Many property owners think they can fight an NCDOT appraisal with one of their own. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Not all appraisals are created equal.

Should you get your own eminent domain appraisal to counter the government’s?

When the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) or another entity plans to take a property through eminent domain, they typically hire an appraiser and then make an offer. Sometimes, property owners disagree with that offer, and consider hiring a private appraiser to counter that offer. This is not a good idea.

Negotiating with the NCDOT is not at all like negotiating with a private property owner. If you want to try to maximize your land’s value, you need the right appraiser and the right type of appraisal – one that calculates the potential of your property from an eminent domain perspective. If you don’t know your property’s true value, you won’t know whether you are getting a fair offer or not.

should i hire a private adjuster

A qualified eminent domain attorney can work with a team of experts on your behalf to show the maximum value for your property. A professional appraiser will be one of those experts.

Your attorney may also work with land planners, civil engineers, real-estate agents, surveyors and environmentalists. Each of these professionals may be able to offer an opinion about the unique characteristics of your property that contribute to its increased value.

The right kind of appraisal

There are two kinds of appraisals: general appraisals and eminent domain appraisals. What’s the difference?

General appraisals

A general appraisal is the kind most property and home owners receive when they are looking to buy a house. Typically, this appraisal is not nearly detailed enough for eminent domain purposes. General appraisals often miss key factors that could show you’re owed more for your property. This is because general appraisers often neglect to account for factors such as:

  • Zoning issues
  • Environmental issues
  • Traffic issues
  • Engineering issues

New zoning, for example, may make your property available for commercial purposes instead of just residential. In that case, you may be owed much more in compensation than what the general appraiser calculated, no matter how your property was historically used.

Eminent domain appraisals

An eminent domain appraisal is much more detailed than a general one. An eminent domain appraiser can work with your lawyer to make sure the right things are considered. In addition, an eminent domain appraiser experienced in these types of appraisals can understand your property, value it correctly, and create a report that, if needed, can stand up under oath if your eminent domain case goes to court.

Above all else, eminent domain appraisals must account for the highest and best use of your property.

What is your property’s highest and best use?

In eminent domain situations, you’re supposed to be paid not only for your land in its present state (what most general appraisals measure), but for your property’s “highest and best use.” In other words, you should be compensated based on the most valuable way you could have developed your property if not for the government’s taking. This kind of analysis can be even more complicated if the government takes only a portion of your land.

Damages to the remainder of your land

An eminent domain appraisal should determine the property value before and immediately after the taking. The NCDOT or another condemning agency not only has to pay you for what it takes, but also compensate you fairly for damages it causes to your remaining property.

Eminent domain appraisals should take into account what the NCDOT or another condemning agency takes and whether that taking made your remaining land less valuable – or even worthless. Valuing property this way involves a lot of hypotheticals and even expert opinions can vary greatly. That’s why it’s very important to make sure you have the right team putting it together before negotiating with the other side.

Choosing your appraiser

When you and your attorney hire an appraiser, there are a number of factors to consider, including who else that appraiser works for and whether your expert would do well in a courtroom setting.

Does your appraiser work for the NCDOT?

There is a small number of eminent domain appraisers. Of those, many work for the NCDOT or other condemning authorities. Since appraising is largely a matter of opinion, you want to make sure your appraiser is as fair and impartial as possible.

Would your appraiser make a good witness in court?

If you don’t settle the case and you go to trial, you want to be sure the appraiser you hired is qualified to testify as an expert and explain the basis of their valuation to a jury. You also want an appraiser a jury is likely to find credible. If the jury doesn’t believe your appraiser, a higher appraisal value doesn’t mean much.

Choosing your attorney

Like appraisers, eminent domain attorneys have varying degrees of experience. When choosing an attorney, look for one who works exclusively in eminent domain. Some attorneys only dabble in eminent domain; would you hire a pediatrician for your heart surgery?

You want an attorney who has seen countless appraisals and knows what types of errors or oversights an appraiser might have made. The firm you choose should have professional relationships with land planners, civil engineers, real-estate agents, surveyors, environmentalists, and other professionals who can offer an expert opinion on the unique characteristics of your property and its value.

How can the NC eminent domain law firm help me?

Our eminent domain attorneys have more than 85 years of combined experience working exclusively in eminent domain. Several of our attorneys used to work for the NCDOT, working for them on some of their biggest cases through the years.

Now, they lead the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm, fighting to keep property owners from leaving their hard-earned money on the table. And it’s worked: Since we’ve been in business, we’ve increased the average compensation offer for our clients by 207.9%!1

We work with appraisers and experts like engineers, land planners, and environmentalists to make sure your appraisal is done right. Before you do anything, have one of our attorneys evaluate your case for free. There is no obligation to hire us afterwards. Call 1-877-393-4990 or contact us online to see how we can help.

Get a free case evaluation

Get a free case
evaluation today.

There are only a handful of attorneys in NC who practice eminent domain exclusively, and even fewer with NCDOT experience. We have several. That’s why its worth getting in touch with us for a free case evaluation.

Here’s how it works:

1) Tell us about your situation.

2) We research your property as needed, using DOT maps, our own technology, and experience to see the exact effects.

3) We let you know what we think a fair offer would be. This evaluation is free, and there’s no
pressure or obligation to hire us after.

But please don’t wait to act. Waiting can hurt your case, and the cost is the same: free.

* Indicates required information

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.