Property Acquisition & Negotiations
Responsibilities & Objectives
The negotiation process will begin with a written offer to purchase the required property based on the appraisal or compensation estimate.
After having the requirements explained and the offer extended, most people understand and accept the settlement. In this instance, the owner will be presented with a contract providing for the payment of the price offered, a deed providing for the conveyance of the necessary right of way, and a payment document for signature.
These documents, signed by the owner, will be approved for payment by the Department's Right of Way manager. The Department will pay all closing costs associated with the conveyance of the property required.
If agreement cannot be reached, the eminent domain law must be used. The Department prepares all of the necessary applications and other documents necessary to institute formal condemnation proceedings. They are filed with the office of the county judge in the county wherein the land is located.
The prospects of a condemnation should in no way cause fears or apprehension. The eminent domain laws provide a means of settlement of honest disagreement and protect the property owner as well as the Department.
The Acquisition Section maintains an Approved Acquisition Consultant List for those firms retained by the Department to provide acquisition services on those tracts not assigned to our staff Right of Way agents.
Frequently Asked Questions
What gives the department the right to take my property?
The Department is granted authority to acquire right of way in Section 39-1320 which states in part: "(1) The Department is hereby authorized to acquire, either temporarily or permanently, lands, real or personal property or any interests therein, or any easements deemed to be necessary or desirable for present or future State highway purposes by gift, agreement, purchase, exchange, condemnation, or otherwise. Such lands or real property may be acquired in fee simple or in any lesser estate. It is the intention of the Legislature that all property leased or purchased from the owner shall receive a fair price." Subsection (2) lists specific activities, facilities, and authorities that are included as falling under the term "State highway purposes" as used in Subsection (1).
What if I do not want to sell or what happens if we cannot reach an agreement on the just compensation amount?
If you don’t want to sell or if an agreement cannot be reached, the eminent domain law must be used. The Department prepares all of the applications and other documents necessary to institute formal condemnation proceedings. They are filed with the office of the county judge in the county in which the land is located.
The prospects of a condemnation should in no way cause fears or apprehension. The eminent domain laws provide a means of settlement of honest disagreement and protects you as well as the Department.
How much will I be paid for my property?
All real estate will be appraised before the initiation of negotiations unless we waive the necessity for an appraisal. The criteria for waiving the need for an appraisal is that the valuation problem must be uncomplicated, and the fair market value of the acquisition is estimated to be $10,000 or less. A waiver valuation (if under $2,000) will be completed for all real estate acquired for which appraisals have been waived.
All valuation reports, whether they are appraisals or waivers, are reviewed by an appraisal reviewer, who analyzes the report. For property requiring an appraisal, and sometimes for those where the appraisal is waived, the reviewer also personally inspects your property. Based on the review of the appraisal or waiver, we establish the amount we believe to be the just compensation to be offered for the real estate being acquired for the project.
How will you inform me of my just compensation amount?
Our offer of just compensation will be made in writing to the owner of the real estate. We will also furnish the owner with a copy of our appraisal or compensation estimate. If our offer is acceptable, a contract providing for the payment of the price offered, a deed providing for the conveyance of the necessary right of way and a payment document will be presented to the owner for signing.
The Department will pay all closing costs associated with the conveyance of the property acquired.
If I hold a mortgage or lien on the property the department is going to acquire will my interest be addressed?
The Department will identify, as a part of our search of the public records, all mortgages, liens, judgments or other interests owned by persons other than the actual owner of the land. These interests will be cleared as part of the process used to acquire land.