Getting More Than What Your Property is Worth in a Condemnation Action

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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: Jul 15, 2021

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In a condemnation action, you must be compensated for the value of the property at its “highest and best use,” as determined by appraisers and the courts, and not for the value of the property given its present use. This means that if the property to be condemned would be more valuable if its use were changed, you would be compensated accordingly.

Understanding Condemnation and Eminent Domain

When a condemnation action is filed against your property in court, the action being filed must generally be accompanied by a deposit to the clerk of the court for the amount of “just compensation” being offered for the property. The amount offered depends on the appraisal of the portion of the property that the action covers. This appraisal value should be the fair market value for that specific amount of property at its best use. In other words, if you are currently using the property as a residential property but you could also use it more profitably as a commercial property, then the value of the property as a commercial property should be considered.

You can choose to dispute the amount that you are offered by the government for the property, but the government entity filing the action will still proceed with the condemnation under its “eminent domain” power. When you dispute the amount that has been offered and the action moves forward, the amount you were offered comes under scrutiny by the court handling the action. You will have the opportunity to argue to the court that the property should have a higher value, but you will need to support that argument with evidence.  Hiring appraisers is crucial to prove to the court the property has a higher value. If the amount the government originally offered you is not commensurate with the current fair market value, you may receive more than the original offer from the court. However, there is also a risk that you will receive less than the original offer.

Getting Legal Help

If you intend to dispute the value of the property, it is important that you get a lawyer to have the best chance of success.

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