Davidson & Associates

Eminent Domain
You're only taking land right? Why do you need to go through my property?
Will the assessor get a copy of the appraisal?
You're working for the government, so you have an incentive to be conservative, right?
Should I get a lawyer?
What if I don't think its a fair offer?

Under nearly all circumstances where a government body is acquiring private property, the governing policy will require that the part to be acquired is valued as part of the whole property. There are various reasons for this, but at the most practical level, it is usually best if the appraiser starts by estimating the value of the whole property. It is usually necessary to base compensation on the value of the part taken (as it contributes to the whole property) and the impact of the taking on the value of the remainder. If the property's value loss is greater than the value of the part taken, then there is damage to the remainder property. This potential damage to the remainder is usually a function of the value of the remaining property. For example, losing half of the front yard setback will generally make a residence a less desirable place to live. However, when expressed in dollars, you need to know what the value of the residence is before you can estimate the value loss. A $65,000 residence will experience a lesser dollar value loss than a $200,000 residence would from the same loss of setback.

You usually don't have to let the appraiser through your property, but in nearly every instance, it is to your advantage to do so. If in doubt, contact your attorney.
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Typically, No. In my 30+ years of experience with condemning authorities, I have never seen an instance where a condemning authority made their appraisals available to an assessing office. However, be sure to make your assessor aware of any acquisition on your property. It should  result in a reduction of your assessed value.
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Absolutely not! It is a violation of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) for an appraiser to act as an advocate for their client. Furthermore, put yourself in the position of the appraiser who has to testify to their value. I assure you, it is much easier to testify to something you believe. An honest appraiser does not want to get on a witness stand to defend a valuation they don't truly believe in.
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Should you get a lawyer? If you feel uncomfortable with the acquisition process, by all means, consult your attorney. My usual advice is, if you have a good feel for the value of your property, wait until you receive an offer. If you feel its a fair offer, accept it (you won't have to share it with your attorney). If you feel the offer isn't adequate, consider bringing in your attorney. If you can't reach an agreement with the condemning authority and you're heading to a quick take or condemnation, you should definitely be consulting an attorney unless you know what you're doing.
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You course of action will depend on various factors. In general, if you feel the offer is too low, try negotiating. If that doesn't help, its probably time to get your attorney involved and follow their advice. In almost all cases, there is usually plenty of time to continue negotiations while preparing your case.
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