As a landowner, you may encounter a Right of Way (ROW) agent during eminent domain land acquisition proceedings. Right of Way agents meet directly with affected property owners to discuss property valuation and to hold negotiations on behalf of the government. They are also a middle-person between the property owner and the condemning authority if the owner makes settlement demands which exceed the ROW agent’s authority to negotiate themselves.
Beware that the Right of Way agent often wants to acquire your land at a price most favorable to the government.
Once you accept the government’s offer and payment for your land, there’s nothing else that can be done. However, an experienced eminent domain attorney helps you by negotiating with the ROW agent for the full value for your land.
As an eminent domain attorney for over 20 years, I’ve helped my clients deal with many government takings. Read on for common questions I hear about ROW agents and straightforward answers in plain language.
What does a Right of Way agent do?
The ROW agent is there to help the government acquire your land, typically for the least amount of money possible.
To this end, the ROW agent will:
- Coordinate with professionals such as title attorneys, appraisers, and surveyors
- Manage right of way documents
- Communicate and negotiate with the landowner on behalf of the condemning authority
- Present the ROW purchase agreement to the property owner
What are some of the potential pitfalls of trusting a ROW agent?
One thing I’ve found that some clients don’t realize is that ROW agents are independent contractors working on behalf of the government. Since the government is their client, ROW agents are generally motivated to acquire your land as cheaply as possible. The offer they make you probably won’t take the full value of your land into consideration, and accepting it could end up being a very costly mistake.
In addition, ROW agents are only human and sometimes they make mistakes. This is why it’s important to contact an experienced eminent domain attorney who can help protect you.
Potential pitfalls in dealing with ROW agents include:
- Insufficient offers that fail to account for the full value of your property or the costs you may have to spend.
- Misunderstood or misapplied rules, laws, and regulations.
- Vague agreement documentation that fails to clearly define terms, boundaries, and other key information (thus increasing the likelihood of a costly legal dispute in the future).
- Negotiations that disregard, downplay, or ignore the true, full value of your home or business.
A ROW agent contacted me. What do I do?
When a Right of Way agent contacts you to purchase your land rights, there are things you should know, especially if you’re unhappy about the eminent domain taking. While Right of Way agents are there to help the transaction go smoothly, you should remember they are working for the condemning authority and are invested in helping the government purchase your land on their timetable and at their idea of a fair price.
How can my eminent domain attorney help me deal with Right of Way agents?
Unlike a Right of Way agent, our eminent domain attorneys are looking out for your best interests. Our firm only works for property owners – never the government. And we know how to fight for maximum value. Since we’ve been in business, we’ve helped our clients get more than 3x their initial offer, on average.1
In one case, we helped increase the NCDOT’s initial offer by more than 2,000% through research and negotiation.1 Tony Dickens received an initial offer of just $1,975 for a portion of his property impacted by nearby road expansion. But our attorneys analyzed and studied Tony’s property, and pushed back hard on the DOT’s offer.
In the end, we were able to raise Tony’s offer to $43,150!1
Call the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm today
We practice eminent domain law exclusively, and our attorneys have more than 90 years of combined experience to draw on for you. Our team includes several attorneys who previously represented the North Carolina Department of Transportation, so we have a good idea of what you can expect from Right of Way agents.
To help you pursue everything you may be owed, we work on a contingency fee basis. That means:
- You pay nothing up front
- You don’t pay by the hour (which means it doesn’t cost you any extra to have us start protecting your interests as soon as possible)
- You pay us nothing if we don’t increase your compensation
You don’t have to face the government by yourself during an eminent domain taking. We can handle the Right of Way agent for you while you deal with the impacts of the taking on your family or business.