Would we be able to recoup money spent improving our home if the railroad were to purchase it?

We recently learned that the railroad is considering laying more rail which would run through our property. This is not a finalized plan but one that they are considering. Fighting the purchase would be futile. However, knowing that this is a possibility, if I make improvements to my home now, would the money spent on these improvements be lost if they decided that they wanted the property?

Asked on March 18, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I would hold off on the improvements.  They really are purchasing the property under the premise of eminent domain and I doubt very much that improvements will matter.  Uunder the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, the owner of any appropriated land is entitled to reasonable compensation, usually defined as the fair market value of the property. Proceedings to take land under eminent domain are typically referred to as "condemnation" proceedings.  So if the improvements will significantly increase the value then maybe but in this market that would probably not be the case.  Good luck.


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