If you're a landowner and you find out that your property is going to be taken for a public project by the government or a corporation using the power of eminent domain, one of the most frustrating things that I hear most landowners say is, "They're going to take my property. I don't want this to happen in the first place, and now they're making a ridiculous offer for my property. It's such a low ball offer. How can they do this?"

Well, first of all, the reality is that a project builder, their job is to acquire the properties needed. If they have eminent domain authority, they want to get these properties as quickly and as cheaply as they can. And that usually involves getting an appraiser and coming up with the lowest number that they can say to a court with a straight face.

That doesn't mean you have to sit still and accept it. You have to do your homework, and a lot of times you have to get the help of an eminent domain appraiser, and maybe also an attorney to push and make sure that you receive full value for what's going to be taken from you.

The Texas constitution and the U.S. constitution both require that you be fairly compensated when property is taken from you by the government. But to do that, you're going to have to do a little work, spend a little time and get some help usually to make sure that you do that. But don't just feel like you have to accept it just because they want to make you a low-ball offer. Think about it as if somebody wanted to buy your car and they may do some kind of ridiculous offer. You don't have to agree to sell it for that price.

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Now, unfortunately in eminent domain, this may be a "car" that you're going to be forced to sell, but you don't have to sell it at the price the other side is trying to dictate. And a lot of times, landowners who are willing to do the work, get help with it, and present their evidence on their side, get a much, much better result and much more fully compensated for what's going to be taken from them.

David Todd
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Austin Texas Eminent Domain Condemnation Attorney