Pre-Condemnation Planning to Protect Your Property


Government taking an interest in your property? The process of eminent domain can be taxing and overwhelming, and the most highly contested element is typically just compensation. While many owners are capable of negotiating real estate purchase agreements, eminent domain cases are different. In typical real estate transactions, the buyer does not have the right to take your property against your will if the parties cannot reach an agreement.

An owner’s conduct before a condemnation case can affect the outcome of the case. By the time an owner becomes aware that the government is going to take their property or certainly by the time an owner receives the government’s offer to purchase the property, the government has assembled a team of experts including lawyers, appraisers, and engineers to assist the government during the pre-condemnation phase of the proceeding. Hiring an experienced condemnation lawyer puts the owner on equal footing with the government during this phase of the proceeding.

Any action taken by the owner that values the property before the government files the case can affect the outcome. Appraisals obtained by the owner to contest real estate taxes, listing agreements that offer the property for sale, real estate contracts to sell the property, joint venture agreements, development agreements, options to purchase, and mortgage appraisals may all be used in a condemnation proceeding.

Lease agreements often contain provisions regarding the distribution of condemnation awards. Once the owner and tenant are aware that the government is interested in taking the property, lease provisions should be analyzed and reviewed.

To protect your property during this process, there are several questions to ask yourself prior to or while you seek representation.

  1. How do I protect my business if my property is being condemned?
  2. Will the taking of part of my property reduce the value of what remains?
  3. How do I obtain commercial value even though my property is zoned residential or agricultural?
  4. Which expert witnesses should I hire to establish the current fair market value of my property?
  5. How do I deal with environmental contamination?
  6. What is the maximum amount of relocation benefits and moving expenses I am entitled to receive?
  1. Will my pre-condemnation conduct without a lawyer hurt my case?
  2. How do I decide how much money to spend litigating with the government?
  3. Is there a way to minimize my expenses while still maximizing my recovery?
  4. What tools are available to make sure the owner receives all compensation guaranteed by the United States and Illinois Constitution?
  5. How do I determine what law firm can best represent me?

Non-condemnation attorneys and non-lawyers may not know the full extent of compensation that the Constitution guarantees an owner in Illinois. By retaining an experienced eminent domain lawyer the owner has a greater chance to maximize total dollars allowable under the law. The Property Rights Attorney team at Ryan & Ryan Law has over 100 years of collective experience in condemnation proceedings. Contact us today.

Defending the Right of Property Ownership