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What is eminent domain?

When you live in a neighborhood or own land, there may come a time when the government states that it needs some of your property to do work to the roads or to otherwise take care of essential needs. The government has the right to obtain private land for public purposes; this right is called eminent domain.

With eminent domain, you, as a property owner, must be fairly compensated. The government entity in charge of the work that is planned will contact its appraisers to determine the value of the property. Once that is done, the government will then offer you what it considers to be a fair price for your property. If you agree to the price you're offered, then you can sell the property. If you don't, then you and your attorney may then proceed to dispute the government's valuation in condemnation proceedings.

These proceedings are in place to allow you the opportunity to offer your own valuation of the property. Your attorney's job is to protect your rights as the owner, while your appraiser will determine a fair market price for your property. You may also argue with the way the government is going to use the property, but unless the use is unnecessary, you're likely to fail in court.

You can also bring up new reasons for a higher property price. You may suggest reasons your property is worth more; if you have tenants, if you have an established business on the grounds or other factors that may affect you economically, they're worth discussing as part of the negotiations.

Source: FindLaw, "How the Government Takes Property," accessed Dec. 01, 2015

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