Since many actions you take prior to litigation may affect the outcome of your case, it is important that you consult with an experienced eminent domain lawyer as soon as you become aware of government plans to acquire your property.
- You should be careful if you attend public hearings about the project impacting your property. These hearings are a good source of information for the property owners. They can provide helpful information about the scope and timing of the project. Remember, however, that any written or recorded statement you make may be used later if you go to trial.
- You should avoid contracts of sale or sale offers that might attach a value to the property before the condemnation proceeding. You should also avoid obtaining an appraisal of the property before consulting with a lawyer.
- You should maintain the appearance and condition of the property. Visual impressions, even to sophisticated professionals, are important, and the condemning agency appraisers will be inspecting the property long before it is condemned. It behooves you to have the property looking as good as possible.
- Property owners are often in the process of planning for development of their property when the government announces its plans to condemn the property. Land use and building applications can have a significant effect on both the use of the property and the condemnation case. For this reason, you should discuss all plans for the property with your eminent domain lawyer before taking any action. There are also often affirmative actions that your lawyer can advise you to take before the case is filed against you that will significantly increase the compensation you are entitled to.