Property owners are rarely happy to learn that state or local authorities in Georgia are invoking eminent domain to take some or all of their real estate. While challenges to the validity of the taking sometimes are successful, more often, the primary issue between the government and the property owner is determining the property’s fair market value.

The law requires the government agency that is seizing property from a private owner to give the owner just compensation based on the property’s fair market value. “Fair market value” means the price the property would sell at in an ordinary sale, where both the buyer and seller have reasonable knowledge about the property. Your attorney will hire an expert witness to appraise the property and give their opinion on what the fair market value is. So will the government. Often, the two sides are far apart on price. You may have to go to court to get fair compensation for your land.

Factors in fair market value

Here is a list of things that can affect the fair market value of real estate:

  • How developed the property is
  • What you are currently using the property for, and its potential other uses
  • How the property is currently zoned
  • The property’s size
  • How the property is accessed
  • Any unique characteristics

Keep in mind that fair market value only involves the property itself. You do not get compensation for moving expenses for yourself or your business, or for the emotional impact of being forced to vacate.

Eminent domain litigation is complicated. If you want fair compensation for your property, you need help from a qualified attorney who regularly practices in this legal area.