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Will You Get Fair Market Value During An Eminent Domain Case?

Grand designs

The worst thing a homeowner can hear is that the government needs to condemn their property for an Eminent Domain case.

All the memories and money invested in your home will be gone in a flash. But, the government is supposed to offer fair compensation when they take your property, right?

In theory, yes. That is the hope anyway. The reality sometimes diverges from that hope, though.

What defines fair compensation is anybody’s guess and varies wildly. Besides, who can put a value on a home that you don’t want to leave? Even if the compensation is fair.

In this article, we will go over some things you can do to make sure you get the money you deserve during an Eminent Domain case.

Lawyer up

The very first thing you need to do when you get a notice of Eminent Domain is to hire an eminent domain lawyer. These cases are very complex so it pays to have somebody specialized to make sure you are treated fairly.

Even though the government has a right to take your property to use whatever way they see fit, you are still constitutionally protected during the procedure.

Don’t sign anything or even talk to anybody about the case until you’ve spoken to a lawyer.

What is “just compensation” exactly?

You may have recently had your house value appraised and think that that amount is what you will be compensated by the government. Unfortunately, the initial offer is likely to be far below what you think your house is worth. It may even be far below what you could get by selling it even if it isn’t exactly what the house is valued.

The government is required to give you fair market value for your home. Fair market value is not the same as what your house has been appraised for, however. There are some things that factor into what fair market value is so every situation is going to be different.

One of the factors is how the land will be used. If it is going to end up as a highway, then it’s difficult to put a value on the land for that use. If it is going to be used to make way for a new mall, then that has more value and the compensation will rise because of that. It has to be for public use though that isn’t always the case.

The government will have its own appraisers to assess the value and most assuredly they will not come up with a high number. They will likely try to convince you that it is not worth as much as you think and throw out an initial low figure. You are under no obligation to accept the first offer. In fact, you’re not obligated to accept any offer. This is where the help of a lawyer is essential. They will help you get the best offer possible.

The biggest problem is when you really don’t want to leave. For somebody who has had a house in the family for generations, no amount of money will be worth it.

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