Challenging a Low Appraisal in an Eminent Domain Proceeding

Real Estate Law

One of the most highly contested aspects of the eminent domain proceeding is the determination of just compensation for the property owner. The law of eminent domain authorizes the government to confiscate private property so long as just compensation is paid to the owner and the property is used for a public purpose. The appraisal values obtained by the government and the property owner may vary drastically and lead to a dispute between the parties.

Appraisers in an eminent domain proceeding can use three different methods to assign value to the property. These include: the market data approach, the cost approach, and the income capitalization approach. Market data analysis is most typically applied to appraise standard residential properties. The appraiser uses recent sales of properties that are comparable in terms of location, size and other factors and determines a value after accounting for specific differences. The cost approach is typically used to evaluate unique or special-use properties and the income capitalization method is used to assess income-producing properties.

In relying on one of these approaches, valuation of the property may be deficient for a number of reasons. Some of the objections cited by landowners to a government’s eminent domain appraisal include:

  • Faulty or inadequate explanation of the property’s uses;
  • Inaccurate estimation of various expenses related to seizure including costs to cure;
  • Failure to account for certain amenities, such as beachfront location;
  • Improvements to the property do not conform to those in the report;
  • Analysis omits discussion of the value of fixtures or equipment;
  • Damages may not be fully accounted for, especially where two units are analyzed together even when they are physically distinct;
  • Improvements in the acquired property are not noted; and
  • Errors exist in the appraisal calculation which impacts property values.

Property owners facing condemnation should ensure that the appraisal is properly conducted and that the valuation is thorough and accurate. It is important for a landowner facing eminent domain proceedings to obtain legal advice and an expert appraiser to avoid lowball offers from the entity seizing the property.

The experienced team of attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C. can help you litigate your real estate claims. Contact Mark Weinstein and his colleagues at (770) 888-7707 or visit them at to find out how they can advise you.

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