Photo of Professionals at McConnell Wagner Sykes + Stacey PLLC

The basics of eminent domain

Eminent domain is a legal setup that can affect landowners across the US. Eminent domain laws allow the government to condemn and take ownership of land. The government may take all or part of the property. It may take property on a temporary or a permanent basis. Eminent domain can be a complicated process. All landowners in Idaho should understand the basics of eminent domain.

Eminent domain in the US Constitution

Levels of US government can take property because they are explicitly granted that right in the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution. This is pertinent to both residential and commercial real estate law. However, there are restrictions on this right. For example, the property can’t just be seized. The landowner must be fairly compensated for it.

How the government steps in

Typically, the government will try to negotiate a price with the landowner. They will need to offer fair market price. This can be arrived at in three main ways: the market approach, the income approach and the cost approach. These are the same methods all real estate professionals use to value properties, indicating the government acting in good faith.

However, there are times when the property owner feels that the government’s offer is too low. In that case, they can dispute it. Sometimes, this will go so far that a judge will be the one to determine the fair market value. Fair compensation for the property should include costs incurred due to relocation.

If the government wants to take your property via eminent domain, it’s wise to contact an experienced attorney. They may be able to help you understand whether the offer is fair. If they believe you need to dispute, they may also be able to help you understand what fair value is for your property.