Eminent Domain Takings: Obtaining Just Compensation for Your Property

July 5, 2013

Many people faced with the threat of eminent domain find themselves wondering about the amount of just compensation they will ultimately receive for their property. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Arkansas Constitution (Art. 2, Section 22) require the condemning party to pay land owners just compensation when taking land through the power of eminent domain. Just compensation in Arkansas is generally determined by taking the market value of the land immediately before the taking minus the market value of the land immediately after the taking considering that any and all improvements are completed and in-place. Determining the market value of one’s land (both before and after the taking) is more complex than many people would believe and that is why any landowner who is faced with the threat of condemnation should consult with an experienced eminent domain law firm.

When faced with an eminent domain taking, the market value of land is initially determined by a condemnation appraiser for the condemning authority and often the amount of just compensation offered is disputed by the landowners. Landowners are entitled to retain their own eminent domain appraiser to value their land in an effort to challange the just compensation estimate by the condemnor. Additionally, landowners are entitled to the maximum market value of their property considering its "highest and best use." This is true even if the land is not currently being used in its highest and best use. For example, land currently used for agricultural can be valued based on its industrial or commercial potential.

Further, landowners are entitled to show every present or potential advantage that their property possesses and which could increase the fair market value. These advantages can be shown at trial by having expert witnesses, such as an engineer or real estate professionals, testify to the advantages and how they justify an increase the present market value. Additionally, the landowner can provide their own testimony as to the amount of just compensation owed as a result of the taking.

Although determining just compensation for an eminent domain taking can be a difficult task, the experienced eminent domain attorneys at Moffitt & Phillips can help landowners obtain the just compensation guaranteed to landowners by the U.S. and Arkansas constitutions. If you or someone you know is facing a taking by eminent domain or condemnation, give the eminent domain lawyers at Moffitt & Phillips a call today.

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