Condemnation & Eminent Domain Lawyer Durham, NC | Durham, North Carolina Eminent Domain Attorney

Our Attorneys Defend Your Right to Just Compensation For Your Land

Our eminent domain attorneys in Durham have represented commercial property owners facing land condemnation for over 45 years. When you need an eminent domain lawyer, trust Henson Fuerst to help.

Trusted Eminent Domain Lawyers Safeguarding Property Rights Throughout North Carolina

Eminent domain cases in Durham involving valuable commercial properties present unique challenges, demanding a seasoned, strategic approach. The government has its own legal and expert team backing it; you need yours. At Henson Fuerst, our experienced attorneys have a track record of advocating for commercial property owners against various entities. If you’re facing land condemnation, contact us at 919-781-1107 or complete our complimentary case assessment form online.

NCLandLawyer Attorneys from HensonFuerst

David Henson


Anne Duvoisin


Chris Beacham


About Our Eminent Domain Practice

As a dedicated division within Henson Fuerst Attorneys devoted exclusively to handling eminent domain cases involving commercial properties, our legal team carefully selects the land condemnation cases we choose to take on. Recognizing the complexities and legal ramifications in commercial property condemnation matters, we limit our caseload to ensure that each case receives the necessary time and resources and that our clients receive the personalized, focused attention they need.

We invest ample time in understanding the unique nuances of your situation, striving to secure the best possible outcome on your behalf. Our collaborative approach enables us to combine our knowledge and insights, bolstering our ability to challenge various government entities effectively. Our track record of successful outcomes for clients underscores our commitment to excellence. If you need assistance with a land condemnation matter, contact our team to explore how we can help.

Types of Clients Our Lawyers Represent in Durham, North Carolina

Our lawyers represent commercial property owners of various sizes, including:

  • Convenience Stores
  • Shopping and Strip Centers
  • Retail and Office Investments
  • National and Local Restaurants
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Facilities
  • Automobile Dealerships
  • Commercial Property Developers
  • Manufactured Home Communities
  • Real Estate Developers
  • Residential Developers
  • Multi-family Apartments
  • Mixed-use Properties
  • Billboard Owners and Companies
  • Cell Tower Providers and Lessors
  • Churches
  • Farms
  • Hotels

Receive a Complimentary Appraisal Evaluation from an Attorney at Henson Fuerst

If you've recently received an appraisal offer from a condemning authority, such as a county, municipality, utility company, or the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), the eminent domain legal team at Henson Fuerst Attorneys in Durham will conduct a thorough review at no cost to you. With years of dedicated representation experience for landowners in Durham and across North Carolina, our condemnation attorneys offer insightful guidance without any obligation or fees.

Our Durham, North Carolina, eminent domain attorneys possess deep knowledge of the strategies employed by government appraisers to undervalue properties, minimizing compensation for landowners and offering inadequate reimbursement for seized property. Upon receiving your appraisal offer, our attorneys will conduct a complimentary review, examining the methodology used, identifying potential flaws, and detecting any attempts to diminish your property's value. Get your free appraisal evaluation today.

About Our Firm’s Fee Structure

Most of the condemnation cases we handle are on a contingency fee basis, meaning our payment is contingent upon securing compensation exceeding the initial offer from the government. We only receive payment if we recover additional compensation on your behalf. In such cases, our fee amounts to one-third of the surplus attained in resolving the case.

For example, if the Department of Transportation offers $150,000 for damages related to a property taking and we settle the case for $300,000 through litigation or trial proceedings, our attorney fee would be one-third of the additional amount acquired, totaling $50,000.

However, depending on the circumstances of a case, this fee structure may not be applicable or advisable. In some instances, we may charge an hourly rate, and our North Carolina condemnation lawyers will assist in determining the best approach for you.

Are There Any Exceptions to This Fee Structure?

Exceptions to this arrangement arise in inverse condemnation cases, where we litigate against the government for land seizure without providing proper compensation. In such cases, attorney fees are typically calculated as a percentage of the total recovery obtained by our firm, and property owners may also be eligible to reclaim attorney fees from the defendant.

Furthermore, in land-taking cases, eminent domain lawyers and paralegals may operate on a flat hourly fee basis, typically working on specific aspects of your case.

Expenses Related to the Case

North Carolina-licensed eminent domain lawyers must separate case-related expenses from their fees mainly to prevent the firm from providing any incentives to clients to retain their services. Hence, we meticulously track all expenses specific to a case, including appraisals, expert witnesses, court filing fees, and other out-of-pocket costs. Internal expenses such as mileage, phone calls, postage, transcription, or photocopies are not included or charged to our clients, as they are covered within our fee structure.

About Land Condemnation Through Eminent Domain

Land condemnation is a legal process through which a government entity or individual, known as the "condemnor," seizes private land for a public purpose, benefit, or use under the power of eminent domain. To be constitutional, the condemnor must demonstrate that the project serves a public purpose and provide just compensation to the land or property owner.

Time is critical in eminent domain cases, with as little as 120 days to contest your case. Failure to act within this timeframe may waive your legal right to seek additional compensation. If you've received a condemnation complaint for your property in Durham, NC, contact our North Carolina eminent domain attorneys at Henson Fuerst as soon as possible.

Road construction through a tree covered lot

The Eminent Domain Process

You can think of the eminent domain process as having two main parts:


The Taking of the Property

The initial step entails the government or condemning authority informing affected parties of the property acquisition. In most eminent domain cases, the condemning authority must justify the acquisition for a public purpose, such as infrastructure development, public utilities, or urban renewal.

Two people reviewing a contract


Providing the Property Owner with Just Compensation

The subsequent phase focuses on establishing equitable compensation for the property owner whose land is being acquired. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution mandates that private property cannot be seized for public use without fair compensation. However, the definition of "just compensation" in eminent domain cases can vary, encompassing factors like the property's fair market value, damages to any remaining property, relocation expenses, loss of business or rental income, and other relevant considerations.

Tactics Condemnor Appraisers Use

The condemning authority's team may attempt to undermine your damage valuations by:


Excluding improvement values in their before and after analysis.


Using outdated or geographically distant property comparables.


Overadjusting or underadjusting comparables to achieve a lower valuation.


Ignoring the Highest and Best Use (HBU) of a property.


Neglecting to consider possible rezoning of the property.


Ignoring the full impact of utility easements.


Failing to consider the loss of parking due to utility easements, with no guarantee of future allowances.


Disregarding damages to the remainder tract, including loss of parking and accessibility.


Undervaluing the impacts of temporary construction easements (TCE) on accessibility, driveways, and more.

How is “Just Compensation” Determined in an Eminent Domain Case?

According to the United States and North Carolina Constitutions, property owners have the right to receive equitable compensation when the government acquires their land. This compensation is typically determined using one of three methods:

Market or Comparable Sales Approach

This method involves comparing the subject property to recently sold properties that are similar in nature. Various factors include the property's physical attributes (size, shape, and topography), zoning regulations, sale conditions, financing terms, location, access to utilities, and any legal constraints.

Cost Approach

The cost approach evaluates the expenses associated with reproducing or replacing the property's improvements, considering depreciation and the value of the land.

Income Capitalization Approach

This approach assesses the property's potential earning ability based on the capitalization of income to set the value.

Assessing the land's highest and best use is crucial in each of these methodologies

The concept of highest and best use in eminent domain, as defined by the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers in The Appraisal of Real Estate (9th ed. 1987), refers to "the reasonably probable and lawful utilization of vacant land or an improved property that is physically feasible, appropriately supported, financially viable, and leads to the greatest value."

Stay Up-To-Date with the Eminent Domain Lawyers at Henson Fuerst

Our North Carolina condemnation attorneys strive to keep our community educated and informed about the latest trends and events regarding land condemnation and eminent domain. Browse our most recent blog posts here: