Public Works builds roads, parks and stormwater facilities and sometimes needs to acquire private property. The county works to ensure that you understand your property rights and offers fair market value for any property being acquired.
Often only a small portion of a private parcel is needed for a public project. When this occurs, the county must also pay for any loss in market value to the remaining property. In cases where the size or shape of the remaining property has little or no value or use, the county will offer to purchase the entire property.
When only a small amount of property is needed, the county will review recent market sales and other data to determine the fair market value. This is called an administrative offer.
When more than a small amount of property is needed, the county will have the property appraised to establish fair compensation. The appraiser will try to contact you for a joint inspection. You have the right to accompany the appraiser during the property inspection. The county will hire another appraiser to review the original appraisal before making an offer. This offer typically is presented in person, both orally and in writing.
If you accept the county’s offer, the county will pay all closing costs, including recording and escrow fees and real estate excise taxes, if applicable. The transaction also is exempt from real estate excise taxes and real estate commission.
If you believe the county’s offer is too low, you can explain why some property feature was overlooked in the appraisal. You also can seek other professional advice, and the county will pay up to $750 of that cost upon receiving a bill or receipt indicating payment. If a second appraisal is prepared by a qualified appraiser and the county can find no errors in that appraisal, it may make a new offer reflecting that amount.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the county has the option of going to court and acquiring the property through condemnation, also called eminent domain. This is a step the county only reluctantly takes as a last resort. Even with a condemnation proceeding, the county is required to pay market value for any property acquisition.