Eminent Domain Attorney Raleigh, NC | Raleigh Eminent Domain & Condemnation Lawyer

We’ll Fight to Secure the Maximum Value for Your Land

Our Raleigh eminent domain lawyers have represented commercial property owners for over 45 years. When you need eminent domain representation, trust Henson Fuerst to help. 

Trusted Eminent Domain Attorneys Protecting Property Owners’ Rights Across North Carolina

After receiving a land condemnation complaint in Raleigh, NC, too much is at risk for a commercial property owner to face eminent domain alone. Raleigh eminent domain cases involving high-stakes, high-value commercial property are not your “normal” cases; they are complex and require a professional, results-driven approach. The government has its own team of attorneys and experts on their side. At Henson Fuerst, you have our team of qualified lawyers that are experienced in representing fellow commercial property owners against the government. If you need assistance with an eminent domain matter, contact our team by calling 919-781-1107 or by submitting a free case evaluation form online.

David Henson, Eminent Domain Attorney

David Henson, Attorney

Chris Beacham, Eminent Domain Attorney

Chris Beacham, Attorney

Anne Duvoisin, Eminent Domain Attorney

Anne Duvoisin, Of Counsel

About Our Eminent Domain Practice

As a boutique division of Henson Fuerst Attorneys focused solely on commercial property eminent domain cases, our lawyers are selective with the condemnation cases we accept. Given the unique needs and legal implications of commercial property condemnation cases, we limit our caseload to dedicate the time and resources each case demands. When you trust our eminent domain practice with your Raleigh eminent domain case, you can rest assured that our law firm will give it the individualized, undivided attention it deserves.

We take our time to get to know the unique intricacies of your case to fight for the best possible outcome. In addition, we work as a team to combine our skills and insights to become a fighting force against various government entities. This is displayed by our proven track record of results for our clients. If you're facing land condemnation, contact our team to see how we may be able to help.

Types of Clients Our Lawyers Represent in Raleigh, 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

Get a Free Appraisal Review by a Condemnation Attorney at Henson Fuerst

If a condemning authority, such as a county, municipality, utility company, or the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), recently presented you with an appraisal offer, the Raleigh eminent domain legal team at Henson Fuerst Attorneys will review it free of charge. With no obligation or cost to you, our Raleigh condemnation attorneys will provide guidance and insights gained from years of dedicated representation of landowners in Raleigh and across North Carolina.

Our Raleigh, North Carolina, eminent domain attorneys are well-versed in the tactics utilized by government appraisers to devalue properties, undercut landowners' compensation, and offer less than equitable reimbursement for seized property. If you received an appraisal offer, our eminent domain attorneys will review it for free. We will discuss the methodology employed, identify potential flaws in reasoning, and pinpoint any efforts to diminish the value of your property. Get a free appraisal review today.

About Our Fee Structure

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

Take, for instance, a scenario where the Department of Transportation offers $150,000 for damages related to a property taking. Following litigation or trial proceedings, we settle the case for $300,000. In this example, our attorney fee would be one-third of the additional amount acquired, totaling $50,000.

Depending on the circumstances of a case, this fee structure may not be applicable or advisable. In some cases, we may represent landowners on an hourly basis. Our North Carolina condemnation lawyers will help determine the best course of action for you.

Are There Any Exceptions to This Fee Structure?

An exception to this arrangement arises 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 the eminent domain lawyer. In many North Carolina inverse condemnation cases, property owners may also be eligible to reclaim attorney fees from the defendant.

Additionally, there are circumstances in land-taking cases where eminent domain lawyers and paralegals operate on a flat hourly rate. Typically, the lawyer only works on parts of your case in these instances.

Case-Related Expenses

North Carolina-licensed eminent domain attorneys must clearly distinguish between case-related expenses and their fees. This regulation serves various purposes, notably preventing lawyers from providing clients with incentives to retain their services. Therefore, we meticulously track all expenses specific to a case throughout its duration, including appraisals, expert witnesses, court filing fees, and other out-of-pocket costs. We do not include or charge our clients for internal expenses such as mileage, phone calls, postage, transcription, or photocopies, as these are appropriately covered within our fee structure.

About Land Condemnation Through Eminent Domain

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

Time is of the essence. You may have as little as 120 days to fight your eminent domain case. Once your time is up, you may waive the legal right to ask for more compensation. If you have received a condemnation complaint in Raleigh, NC, speak with our North Carolina eminent domain attorneys at Henson Fuerst as soon as possible for your best chance at the just compensation you could be entitled to by law.

Road construction through a tree covered lot

The Eminent Domain Process

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

1. The Taking of the Property

The first stage involves the government or a condemning authority notifying affected parties of the taking. In most eminent domain cases, the condemning authority must demonstrate that the taking is for a public purpose, such as infrastructure development, public utilities, or urban renewal.

2. Providing the Property Owner with Just Compensation

The second stage revolves around determining fair compensation for the property owner whose land is being taken according to state and federal law. The U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment mandates that private property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation. However, what constitutes "just compensation" in eminent domain can vary and may include factors such as the property's fair market value, damages to any remaining property, relocation costs, loss of business or rental income, and other considerations.

Typically, both parties engage in negotiations to reach a settlement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the matter may proceed to court, where a judge or jury will decide on the appropriate compensation amount based on evidence and expert testimony presented by both sides.

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

According to the United States and North Carolina Constitutions, when the government acquires land, the property owner has the right to receive fair compensation for the taken property. This compensation is typically determined through one of three methods:

Tactics Condemnor Appraisers Use

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

  1. Excluding improvement values in their before and after analysis.
  2. Using outdated or geographically distant property comparables.
  3. Overadjusting or underadjusting comparables to achieve a lower valuation.
  4. Ignoring the Highest and Best Use (HBU) of a property.
  5. Neglecting to consider possible rezoning of the property. This is particularly important for undeveloped land adjacent to higher-zoned parcels.
  6. Ignoring the full impact of utility easements.
  7. Failing to consider the loss of parking due to utility easements, with no guarantee of future allowances. These include permanent utility easements (PUE), drainage utility easements (DUE), and permanent drainage easements (PDE).
  8. Disregarding damages to the remainder tract, including loss of parking, road frontage, accessibility, driveways, signage, and impacts like light and noise pollution.
  9. Undervaluing the impacts of temporary construction easements (TCE) on accessibility, driveways, and other factors affecting land value.

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

According to the United States and North Carolina Constitutions, when the government acquires land, the property owner has the right to receive fair compensation for the taken property. This compensation is typically determined through one of three methods:

Market or Comparable Sales Approach

This approach involves comparing the subject property to similar, recently sold properties. Various factors are considered, such as the physical characteristics of the property (e.g., size, shape, topography), zoning regulations, sale conditions, financing terms, location, access to utilities, and any legal restrictions.

Cost Approach

The cost approach entails evaluating the expenses associated with reproducing or replacing the property's improvements, adjusted for depreciation and the land value.

Income Capitalization Approach

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

In each of these methods, evaluating the land based on its highest and best use is essential.

The concept of highest and best use in eminent domain, as outlined 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: