All cities, counties, states and the federal government have the power to take private property and develop it for public use. This power is called “eminent domain,” and the legal process through which this power is used to take property from a landowner is referred to as “condemnation.” Once a government entity has made the decision to begin a project using privately owned property, it will send condemnation letters to property owners offering to purchase the property in exchange for the dollar amount contained in the letter. Rarely is that amount just and fair to the property owner, so that’s why working with an attorney and an appraiser qualified to serve, if needed, as an expert witness in a condemnation proceeding are key to ensuring that you receive the just compensation to which you are entitled.
Reading Between the Lines
While most condemnation letters will mention that they arrived at their offer of compensation with the assistance of an independent real estate appraiser, the specifics tend to be vague and leave out key information such as how the offer was calculated. When you get an offer letter like that you can be confident you have received a lowball offer. Condemnation law requires that the offer be based on the highest and best use of your property but government-hired appraisers are often pressured to appraise your property at its current use. That is one way to generate a low-ball offer. Another way is by failing to consider how your remaining property that is not being taken will be devalued as a result of the project. The government is required to pay you for any damage to your remaining property but most offers to purchase omit any discussion of the damage to the property not taken.
Involving an Expert Witness Appraiser
It’s worth it to reach out to a seasoned condemnation attorney who can help you understand your rights and guide you through the process of enlisting the help of an expert real estate appraiser who is experienced in performing condemnation appraisals. Condemnation appraisals are very different from an ordinary appraisal. This professional can help your attorney negotiate a more favorable amount of compensation. Additionally, if the government does not agree to your proposed amount and the case goes to court, your appraiser can be used as an expert witness to persuade the jury to award you a more appropriate amount of compensation. In most cases, the governmental wishes to avoid the courtroom, as the jury tends to side with the property owner in condemnation cases. Having an experienced appraiser on your team is a must.
Trusted Assistance When You Need It
If you are a property owner in northern Alabama who has recently received a condemnation letter, we are here to help you understand your options. At Sewell Sewell Beard LLC our experienced legal team is committed to ensuring that you receive the just compensation to which you are entitled. Call (205) 544-2350 today to get started.
No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.