How to Approach Closing Costs

Closing costs are fees–including escrow and title fees–associated with the purchase of real property that are paid at the close of escrow.  In typical arms-length transactions, both sellers and buyers are responsible for paying some amount of the closing costs.  As discussed below, special treatment should be given to closing costs in an eminent domain…

Admissions of Value in Cost Studies and Budget Reports

During the precondemnation process, public agency staff may be asked to make written estimates of the value of properties that are needed for an upcoming project.  Similarly, a budget for a proposed project may call for such estimates.  Often these estimates are well above market value because they include acquisition costs as well as unrelated…

Limits on the Right to Take

There are many common and not-so-common situations where a public entity may not have the power of eminent domain.  These include: Property sought is outside the public entity’s territorial limits. Staff might propose to acquire property outside the public entity’s territorial limits. Extra-territorial takings are permitted in only certain circumstances. Property sought is in excess…

Practice Tip to Avoid the Potential for Precondemnation Damages

This is a practice tip to avoid the potential for precondemnation damages.  In all project documents, refer to future land acquisitions in noncommittal, tentative, conditional language. Examples: “The proposed acquisition” “The acquisition under staff consideration” “The recommended acquisition” “No decision has been made to acquire the property” “Only the governing board can make the decision…

A Brief History of Eminent Domain

Eminent domain is the power of government to take private property for a public purpose without the owner’s consent. The power of eminent domain is invoked only after every effort is made to acquire property through negotiation with the property owner and only as a last resort. The power of eminent domain is inherent in…