There are instances in which the government can take your home. Here’s how.

A key
A key

Did you know that there are some instances in which the United States, state and municipal governments can come take your property, even without your consent?

It’s a legal right called eminent domain, and if you have never heard of it or want to know more, here are some key questions as to how it happens and how to deal with it.


What is eminent domain?

Eminent domain is the Fifth Amendment right of a government entity to take your property for a public purpose. The government has to provide proof that the property will have a beneficial use to the public, and also has to make a fair value offer for the property.

What are situations in which the government could seek your property?

There is a wide range of situations, but the most common ones are for construction of roads/highways and public buildings, supplying water to a community or for defense purposes.

Can eminent domain actually be good for a property owner?

There are cases when it can be. If the government makes an offer for more than the property is worth or if a property owner doesn’t owe much more money on a loan, eminent domain can be great for that owner. But it can work the other way, also. If an owner owes more money on a property than is offered by the government, it can be a crushing blow.

What sort of legal battles can come from eminent domain?

If someone is unhappy about an eminent domain offer from the government, an owner can retain the services of a lawyer and fight for a better offer. As part of the process, that lawyer can also hire a forensics appraiser that can evaluate the value of a property and testify in front of a judge in defense of that evaluation.

Roughly 95% of cases are settled before going to court, according to Rick Dreggors, a forensic appraiser in Orlando with 34 years of experience in the industry. But there are instances in which cases aren’t settled, and a judge will decide the true value of an offer and what an owner should be getting from the government.

On this most recent episode of “You Have Real Estate With Justin Clark,” attorney Justin Clark chats about eminent domain with Dreggors.

To watch the full segment, hit play on the video above.