What is Fair Compensation for Eminent Domain in Texas?

When faced with government use of eminent domain, there are many steps you can take to defend yourself and make sure that you aren’t being taken advantage of.  While these systems may give the government the land as cheaply as they can get it, there are steps you can take to make sure you are getting fair compensation for your land.

It is difficult to assess the fair value of your property without additional details since property values (and the value of particular parcels) is often such a location-specific and fact-specific issue.  However, a Texas eminent domain attorney can provide you with the information you need and help you get independent appraisals to make sure that you know the fair value of your property during an eminent domain case.

For help with your eminent domain case, call the Dallas eminent domain lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm today at (817) 476-1797.  We offer free case evaluations.

Determining Fair Market Value of Land in Texas Eminent Domain Cases

When the government approaches you with an eminent domain claim, they have to first offer to buy the property from you.  If you’ve recently purchased your property or keep an eye on property values in your area, you might already have a pretty good idea of what your land is worth.  Even if you don’t, appraisals and information on the local market can help you determine the value of your property.

In many eminent domain cases, the government does not actually need the entire parcel of land.  Some cases involve taking a very small strip of land in order to put down cables, pipes, or other underground lines.  Additionally, small portions of the land might be seized to put in things like electrical boxes, cable relays, or telephone poles.  In these cases, fair compensation might be a small, nominal fee since they aren’t taking much property.

In cases where a larger parcel of land or the entire property is being taken, you should always get an appraisal to make sure you know what your property is worth.  If the government’s initial purchase offer is above this value, that can either mean that you’re getting a good deal or, more likely, there’s some detail you missed about your property’s worth, and you may be getting swindled.

In any case, there is no reason the government should ever get a discount on your land; they should pay fair compensation.  A Houston eminent domain lawyer can fight to help make that happen.

Factors that Increase Property Value During Eminent Domain Cases in Texas

Property values are usually based on factors dealing with what the property can be used for.  For example, property in the center of town can be used for building housing, buildings that will provide services to everyone, or even parks and highways.  In other areas, mineral rights or waterfront access might also be a concern for the landowner.  Location is also a vital factor in property value.

Another important factor in determining property values for eminent domain cases is what value and use is left in the remaining property after the government taking.  For example, if you own a lakefront house and the government wants to seize the portion of the land along the lake, the rest of your property is going to be worth a lot less when it is no longer a “lakefront property.”  The same is true if the part being seized covers the majority of your property and leaves you with only a small, non-functional parcel or takes away access to other features, like street-front access or a great view.

A professional appraisal and help from an Irving personal injury lawyer can help you uncover the true price of your land based on these factors.

Texas Eminent Domain Rights to Protect Your Property Value

As mentioned, the government has to make an offer to buy your land first before they can use eminent domain.  While it is important to know the value of your property at this stage, it is likely that the government is going to try to make a low-dollar offer anyway.  The true stage at which you will be able to offer evidence of the value of your property and force the government to pay higher compensation comes later in the process.  You also have the right to a Texas eminent domain attorney and the right to get your own appraisal during an eminent domain case in Texas.

Right to a Bona Fide Offer

The Texas Landowner’s Bill of Rights states that the government has to make a bona fide offer to buy your property first.  They also have to get an independent appraisal and give you the written appraisal to make sure that they are acting in good faith.  However, these initial offers often fail to take into account what the government intends to do with your property and how it will affect the value of your remaining property – something that should also be compensated.

Right to Hire Appraiser

The Landowner’s Bill of Rights also states that you can hire your own appraiser to help you determine the value of your land.  This means that you never have to rely on what the government says or what their appraiser tells you about the value of your property.

Right to a Lawyer

The Landowner’s Bill of Rights also states that you may hire an attorney to help with your case.  The lawyer can help protect your property rights and ensure that the government has followed all required steps and procedures to the letter.  If they have not, there may be opportunities to have the case delayed and force the government to go back and correct their mistakes, drawing out the case.  Your lawyer can also represent you in negotiations and hearings.

Right to a Hearing

One of the most important functions of your Texas eminent domain attorney is to represent you in any hearings on the value of your property.  No matter what the government initially tells you your property is worth, your attorney can challenge this claim before a commission and in court.  There, we may present evidence from your own appraiser and evidence of how your remaining property’s value will be affected to attempt to get you adequate compensation for your land.

Call Our Texas Eminent Domain Lawyers for Help

If you are facing an eminent domain claim against your property, call The Queenan Law Firm’s Texas eminent domain attorneys today at (817) 476-1797 for a free case review.