Issues surrounding a Georgia real estate transaction– regardless of project type or scope – tend to be complex and sometimes even a bit head-spinning.

An established Atlanta real estate legal source underscores that. It duly notes that, “Even a simple real estate transaction requires a party to consider a multitude of factors.”

Like property liens and encumbrances that might exist, for instance. Or zoning mandates. Title issues can come into play. Contractual matters of various sorts often loom large. Transactional closing often turns out to be a far bigger deal than many participants envision.

And then there is eminent domain. Many property owners might reasonably be unaware of what that is or entails, but it is a certain bet they will never forget the process if a government body raises it concerning a realty holding.

Eminent domain: First of all, what is it?

Eminent domain is sometimes referred to as a government taking, because that it precisely what it is.

With restrictions, that is. The U.S. Constitution expressly allows a government entity to take property owned by a citizen, but only if clearing these hurdles:

  • The property transfer must be for public use and to promote a public purpose
  • An owner must be justly compensated for the loss of land and/or buildings

What does the eminent domain process entail?

Eminent domain often works like this. A federal, state or municipal body declares a takings need (can be complete or partial, and even be some imposition on land short of its actual title transfer). The government commences a so-called “condemnation” proceeding, which centrally features a suggested price to the affected property owner. Many eminent domain matters are settled at this point.

But not all. Owners sometimes don’t want to sell. They may find the price unreasonably low or question the government’s public-use claim. When that is the case, the process moves to a public hearing/court action, which provides both the government and the property owner an opportunity to air their views and argue contrastive positions.

Obviously, an individual squared off against a government entity in an eminent domain matter can benefit from strong legal counsel. A proven real estate legal team can provide candid guidance and diligent representation in a takings case.