The top five things you can do to mess up your land condemnation case. If the government is getting ready to take your land in an eminent domain land condemnation case, here are the top five things you can do to ruin your case.
One, sign a right of entry agreement with the Department of Transportation. This agreement allows the DOT to come onto your land without paying you for it and without filing any of the required complaints and documents. In essence, it gives the DOT complete free rein to start building on your property as if they own it, but without jumping through any of the legal hoops or paying you anything for your land. Don’t ever, ever do it.
Two, challenge a tax appraisal. When you challenge a tax appraisal, you are arguing that your land is worth less than the value the local authorities assigned to your property. You may save on taxes, but it will work against you when that evidence comes up during land condemnation negotiations. To protect the value of your land, don’t challenge your tax appraisal.
Three, speak to a right of way, or ROW, agent about your property. Right of way agents keep very detailed notes in what is called a negotiation diary. Those notes may be used against you later when you’re fighting with the state over the value of your land. Many land owners will tell the agents things they think will help their case when instead, those things end up hurting their case. The smart thing is to say nothing. Just listen, volunteer nothing.
Four, speak to a DOT appraiser about your property. Don’t forget who pays the DOT appraisers. They don’t continue to get hired by the state if their appraisals are high. They get rehired when they are consistently low and save the state money. Don’t think if you’re gonna be able to sway them by being nice or pointing out information about your land and its use. Say nothing and know that your next step should be to talk with your lawyer and to hire your own appraiser. Someone who’s not out to low-ball you. Remember, you can always learn more by listening than by speaking.
Five, put your property on the market while condemnation is pending. Property that is about to be condemned is not easy to sell at fair market value. In addition, evidence that you couldn’t sell your property for the asking price will hurt you at trial when you seek fair market value from a jury.
We have videos dedicated to each of these points to tease them out in greater detail. But hopefully this video will stop you in your tracks before you do anything major to affect your case before it even gets started. For more information, call us at 800-452-9633 or visit our website at www.nclandlawyer.com.