In nearly any eminent domain proceeding, achieving positive outcomes depends on properly weighing the government's interests and the rights of the property owner. It should be no surprise that when seeking to obtain land or access to land for the purpose of improving public infrastructure, government entities strive to gain what they need at the lowest possible cost.
To derive optimal benefit from the transaction, however, landowners need confidence that every unique characteristic that adds value to the property in question is carefully appraised and recognized. Where conflicts arise, it may be necessary to seek resolution in court. Representation by skilled legal counsel can be crucial at all stages of the process.
Factors in valuation
Every eminent domain case is different. From the government perspective, the most important element of consideration is nailing down the property's fair market value. However, much also depends on the nature of the public project that the government is proposing. Factors that any appraisal should include, but not necessarily be limited to are:
- The size of the plot
- How it is zoned
- How it is currently used
- Whether it has existing structures and roads in place
- Whether there are others, tenants or leaseholders, who might be affected
Another factor that sometimes may be overlooked is how much property the government is seeking to obtain and whether all of it is necessary for the purposes of the project. The government may want to purchase an entire parcel of land when limited access through an easement is all that is necessary. In either case, the eventual valuation reached should reflect the verifiable interests of all parties involved, including what effect any sale or granting of easement rights might have on property values in the area.
What is clear is that these processes can become complicated. In future posts, we will examine the influences of the methods and timing of valuations.