The United States government has a legal right to take over private property in justification of eminent domain, but property owners should be aware of their rights. Specifically, property owners need to be aware of the steps they can take to dispute such a claim.
The United States Constitution’s Fifth Amendment lays out the groundwork for eminent domain, which essentially allows the government to take over otherwise private property for certain uses, so long as the existing property owners are provided with fair compensation in return. This applies not just to the Federal government, but state and local municipalities as well. Still, if you have recently received an offer from a condemning authority regarding the takeover of your property, you may be wondering if you have any recourse. The good news is that you do, but there are some steps you’ll need to take to argue against eminent domain in Arkansas.
Work With a Real Estate Attorney
The first step you’ll want to do is to meet with an experienced real estate attorney—and you should do this as soon as possible. When meeting with your attorney, be sure to bring along any documentation you have related to your property, including any formal letters you have received from the government claiming eminent domain on your property. If you have been issued an offer on your property, you and your attorney can discuss whether the offer is fair and, if not, what steps you can take to formally dispute it.
Your real estate attorney will also be able to review the government’s proposed reason for taking over your property under eminent domain, whether it be to build a public road or for utility usage. In some cases, your attorney may be able to prove that the claim for eminent domain is not valid, though this can be difficult due to the ambiguity of eminent domain laws.
Meet With a Real Estate Appraiser
Another important step in disputing your offer from a government authority regarding your property is having an appraiser come out and determine what they would consider just compensation for your property. If the appraised value exceeds what you’ve been offered in compensation, you will have a much stronger argument. Many property owners choose to obtain multiple opinions on their appraisal. Either way, there’s a good chance that you’ll need your appraiser to testify as an Arkansas real estate expert witness if and when your case goes to court. He or she will be able to testify as to the appraised value of your property as well as the specific parameters that were used to determine that value.
Disputing an offer from a government agency for eminent domain isn’t easy, but there are steps that can be taken to fight for your rights. Be sure to consult with both a real estate attorney and real estate expert who can also testify as a witness. Get started by contacting Ferstl Valuation Services today at 501-313-0641.