Who Determines What Your Property is Worth?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jan 20, 2020

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Condemnation is a process through which the government takes private property, usually land, for public uses such as building roads, airports, or schools. The government has the right to do this through the power of eminent domain. But, the government must give the property owner “just compensation” for the property. During the process of condemnation, third parties are hired to appraise the property’s value. Sometimes, a condemning agency handles this with its own or hired appraisers. If the property owner does not accept the valuation of the appraiser, the case may go to court and a jury may decide the worth of the property for condemnation purposes.

Just Compensation in Condemnation

In a condemnation action, the government will hire property value appraisers (or an agency) to determine the market value of the property. Market value is based on what the property would be worth if it were on the market for a reasonable amount of time and a potential buyer knew about all its uses.  Sometimes a property could be worth more if it had a different use. When the government knows the property’s value, it will make a pro tanto award. At that point you may accept or reject its offer.   

If you think that the offer is unfair, you can go to court and the government will try and exercise its right of eminent domain. At the hearing, the government will present its case showing that its offer is fair, and you, the property owner, will have a chance to voice your objections. To win the case and prove the government offer is not just, you will need to hire appraisers who will convince the court that you are entitled to more money. A jury will then decide, and if either side is not satisfied with the judgment, an appeal can be filed.

Getting Help – Find a Condemnation Lawyer

If you have been notified that your property is subject to condemnation, you need to call a lawyer to help ensure that your legal rights are fully protected.

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