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Displacement of Family Farms, Eminent Domain and Fair Market Value

Posted on November 20 2014 by Gabriela Ocampo

California is known for its combination of wide open spaces and dense urban centers. As populations continue to grow, the government of California is working out expand public infrastructure in many rural areas. Projects are scheduled to include diverse constructions fromwater and flood control to the creation of the California High Speed Rail. Small family farms can be at risk from this expansion, subject to laws which could displace many homeowners. Understand how eminent domain can affect you and the risks for California Farmers.

How Does it Work?

Eminent domain works when an a government condemns a private property for the public purpose. Condemnation is not a reflection of this condition of your property, but a legal term. A common use of this would be invoking eminent domain to condemn a house while expanding a two lane road to a four lane road. When this land is obtained by the government, the land owner is supposed to get compensated at fair market value.

Understanding Fair Market Value

Private property taken from owners for public works must be given the price that the asset would fetch if it was listed in the marketplace. Conditions for valuing this price include the assumption that prospective buyers and sellers are reasonably knowledgeable about the property and that the property would sell at this price within a reasonable amount of time. This decidedly vague definition can leave a lot of ambiguity and confusion.

Small Farms and Market Value

Small farms are not typical properties. Comparing one farm to another is not like comparing two houses on the same block. Farms will vary by the type of production in fruits, grains, and vegetables or by the amount and type of livestock involved. Often times farms are in rural areas that may sell at lower real estate prices, yet purchasing a place of equal quality may run much higher than the farm would sell for. Additionally, small farms are often family run and may be handed down through generations. The memories and traditions associated with these properties are difficult to value with money.

Eminent Domain and Small Farms

All the things that make small farms unique, also make them vulnerable to low values and low ball offers when it comes to eminent domain purchase. It's important to make sure that the fair market value offer reflects the actual value and imposition the state is imposing, and not simply the cost of a real estate listing. You may not be able to stop the government from using the power of eminent domain to take your treasured property, but there are ways to get the best compensation for this imposition, including proper valuation and relocation or incurable damage payments.

Get Proper Representation

If the government comes after your land, this isn't a battle you should fight on your own. Find an attorney who specializes in eminent domain. The experts can help you navigate through the government paperwork to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.