Negotiation takes careful thought and practice, and when it comes to settling your eminent domain case, it’s a powerful and necessary skill. Whether you’re attempting to negotiate the most money and best terms for your land by yourself or through legal counsel, there are five critical tactics to adhere to if you want to secure what you’re after.

  1. When possible, go second. Let your opposition make their offer first because you have no idea what they might be planning to offer you — they may surprise you and start at a higher number than you anticipated. You don’t want to give up that opportunity by going first and potentially coming in below their initial offer and selling yourself short right out the gate.
  2. The key to negotiation success is overstating your demands. When the time comes to present your argument, you should always ask for more than what you would accept. You’ll never get more than you ask for, but you might get exactly the amount you do ask for, so it’s in your best interest to start with a higher number.
  3. Don’t split the difference. Try to keep the range of the negotiations geared toward your end of the deal instead of theirs. Keep the “hi/lo bracket” closer to what you’re trying to achieve; otherwise, the opposition will take the opportunity to run away with offers that work better for them. Similarly, never automatically accept their first offer, or possibly even their second or third. Keep negotiating to maintain a position of power.
  4. Don’t offer a concession without asking for something in exchange. Make them understand that every move they ask you to make is going to cost them something as well. Don’t give away something without making them give you something in return. This teaches your opponent that each move will cost them.
  5. The most important rule of all: Be willing to walk away. It may seem like an unsettling tactic, but you need to be able to do it. If you go into a negotiation feeling like you have to take a deal, you’ve already lost, because you’ll be scrambling for even the lowest bid. If you walk away, not only do you make yourself more powerful, but you also relieve some stress on your situation. A large part of achieving this mindset is a willingness to move onto the next step, which is going to court to have a judge or a jury decide your case. Don’t be afraid to draw out the process in order to get what you deserve, and don’t be afraid to have the case decided in court either. If your lawyer is not comfortable going to trial when necessary, get another lawyer.

Whether an agreement is reached via negotiation or inside a courtroom, having a lawyer on your side for your condemnation case will always put you in a stronger position. A lawyer presents a more credible threat to the other side because they’ll realize that if you don’t settle, you’ve already shown you’re willing to go to court to fight for your rights. For more advice and information, download your free copy of my Texas Eminent Domain Guide. Then, reach out to us for help.