This blog accompanies the text, Real Estate Analysis: Environments and Activities by Julian Diaz III and J. Andrew Hansz. Student are encouraged to post assignments and original research papers to this blog. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for posting rights or to add your program to the blog. Some blog posts and objective questions maybe considered for publication in a future edition of the text.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Blog Post 2
Fin 180 Dr. Hansz Kasper Hovannisian
When thinking about the many legal issues and governmental activities there are in real estate, the most interesting and controversial law in my opinion is eminent domain. According to our text, eminent domain is, "the government's right to take private property for the benefit of the public." Because of this law the government can condemn your property if they can prove they will use it in a way that will please the community. By doing this the law requires the government to pay you a just compensation, which is the market value of the property. There are many examples of the government exercising the right of eminent domain in our local real estate market and in this post i will discuss in detail an example of this. I will also discuss the different laws and rights a land owner has when dealing with eminent domain such as public use and due process.
As stated earlier, in order for a government to exercise eminent domain they must prove that it benefits the public. This process is known as, "public use." Traditional examples of public use are roads, schools, government buildings, and parks. But according to the California Eminent Domain Handbook the term public use is, "interpreted very broadly by the courts." (Handbook) Also, according to expertlaw.com, "some governments appear inclined to exercise eminent domain for the benefit of developers on the basis that anything that increases the value of the land is good public use." (Expert Law) So as we can see public use can cover a wide range of things.
Since there are many holes in the term public use, many land owners file law suites against the government claiming that the land has no public use. The landowners have the right to do this because of due process. Due process is the right to sue the government and have a court oversee a government taking. Although many people try to do this it is very rare for the property owner to win the case. However if the property owner does win the case he/she may be entitled to recover litigation expenses including attorney and appraiser fees. On the other hand if the government wins the litigation the property owner will not be held liable for government fees. (Handbook) So depending on how strong your case is, it is in the owners best interest to challenge the condemnation.
As we move forward we see that our local real estate market is no stranger to the eminent domain process. There are many local examples of eminent domain and I will be discussing an example of a family friend who was forced to move because the government took their land to build a school. This family lived on 30 acres of farmland where they had their house and vineyard in East Fresno. They didn't want to sell this land to the government so they filed litigation but eventually lost. A short time after this they were compensated for the land and moved away. The interesting thing about this is that construction of the school was halted after they sold the property and construction isn't set to restart for many years. They cancelled plans for the school because much of the developmental housing around the property stopped production because of the down real estate market so there isn't a need for a new school. So as we can see eminent domain can sometimes be a burden to the government if their plans don't work out.
With all the factors that go into eminent domain there is now wonder why many people devote their careers to this. Weather they are working for the government or against them as a lawyer who fights this process there are many areas of this field to get into. And as we can see eminent domain can happen to anybody so we all need to be prepared. Just by understanding some of the key principles and ideas of this we can be ready for this process to take place. It is a scary thing to think about but sometimes this process is truly beneficial to the public. Without eminent domain we may never have been able to enjoy the benefits of schools, parks, library's, and roads so we must take the good with the bad.
Diaz, Julian, and Andrew Hansz. "7.2 Government Powers." Real Estate Analysis Enviorments and Activities
Larson, Aaron. "Eminent Domain." Legal Help, Directories, Articles, and Forum from ExpertLaw. Web. (expertlaw.com)
"The Eminent Domain Handbook." California Eminent Domain Law Group - Eminent Domain Attorneys. Web. (Californiaeminentdomain.com)