Header graphic for print

Eminent Domain & Real Estate Litigation Blog

Condemnation and Real Estate Litigation

Kelo Properties Still Vacant

Posted in Eminent Domain

In 2005, the US Supreme Court issued one of its most controversial decisions. In Kelo v. City of New London, the Court held that it was not unconstitutional to use the power of eminent domain to take homes and other private property and transfer the property to private entities for economic development. It found that economic development was a “public purpose” which, therefore, satisfied the Fifth Amendment “public use” requirement.

Although the taking was held to be constitutional, the extraordinary public reaction caused the City of New London to abandon the project. 9 years later, the property still remains vacant. New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio ultimately issued an apology to former Fort Trumbull property owners and announced a restructuring of the New London Development Corp.


Sacramento Wins Arena Condemnation Case

Posted in Eminent Domain

The City of Sacramento won a major eminent domain battle in its attempt to secure land for a new arena. A judge has given it the rights to the old Macy’s Men’s store in Downtown Plaza. The store was the last parcel needed by the city to make the site into a new $448 million, 24/7 attraction. The city filed its eminent domain suit in January after its $4.35 million offer for the property was rejected.

Judge Sets Value Of Flight 93 Memorial Property

Posted in Eminent Domain

A Federal Judge agreed with a federally appointed commission’s $1.5 million appraisal of what is now the Flight 93 National Memorial property. The property, located in Shanksville, PA, was condemned for the Memorial. The land’s former owner, Michael Svonavec, argued the 275-acre property was worth $23 million. It is not known whether Svonavec will appeal the ruling.

MD Threatens To Condemn House of Cards Property

Posted in Eminent Domain

The House of Cards producers are threatening to leave Maryland if they don’t get millions more dollars in tax credits. In response, members of the Maryland House of Delegates have threatened to condemn the sets, equipment and other property used for that show. The threat was proposed Thursday afternoon by Del. C. William Frick (D-Montgomery) and quickly approved with barely any debate or even a roll-call vote. According to the Washington Post, Frick said, “I literally thought: What is an appropriate Frank Underwood response to a threat like this? Eminent domain really struck me as the most dramatic response.” However, the state Senate is not expected to pass a similar measure.

Eminent Domain Bill Passes in Washington State Senate

Posted in Eminent Domain

The Washington State Senate approved a bill that would prevent property from being condemned and then being transferred to an agency of another state.  Senate Bill 6125, introduced by state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, passed in the Senate 25-23 vote and will now be considered by the State House.

The bill reads in its entirety: “No private property shall be taken or damaged for public or private use that is to be transferred for use or possession by a governmental agency of another state. In the event of conflict between the provisions of this chapter and any other act, the provisions of this chapter shall govern.”  This is apparently in reaction to a light rail project in which C-Tran would use its power of eminent domain for TriMet.

Christie Unaware of Eminent Domain Bill He Signed

Posted in Uncategorized

During a recent radio call-in show, NJ Governor Chris Christie was asked by a listener about legislation providing the power of eminent domain to a new Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University joint board of governors.  Gov. Christie said he was unaware of such a proposal.  However, Gov. Christie had already signed that bill into law last month.

Christie said in response to the listener’s question, “If a bill like that comes to my desk, I’ll have to take a close look at it.  I haven’t heard anything at this point about eminent domain being given to a university – I don’t think that’s the way it works.”

The bill was among 100 that Christie’s office said he signed Jan. 21. He also pocket-vetoed 44 bills that day.

Utah Passes Eminent Domain Bill

Posted in Eminent Domain

Utah recently passed an amendment to its eminent domain laws.  The Utah Senate unanimously approved HB 25 and now the bill awaits the Governor’s signature.  The legislation updates language in the state code dealing with eminent domain and also established news guidelines that allow property owners greater access and engagement in the process.

The legislation allows a property owner to involve the State Ombudsman in the process and allows a property owner to accompany an appraiser valuing the condemned property.  It also permits condemnees to request an explanation of the condemnor’s appraised value.



HUD May Seek Court Guidance on Eminent Domain for Mortgages

Posted in Eminent Domain

National Mortgage News has reported that HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan stated at a Politico event that the legality of the use of eminent domain to force the sale of mortgages should be decided by the courts.  The American Land Title Association’s chief executive Michelle Korsmo criticized the remarks, stating “Waiting for these eminent domain proposals to be resolved in the court system will likely take years and cost these interested parties significant dollars.”  HUD’s current position is that the use of FHA to refinance seized mortgages can only be decided when the agency receives a loan application, as indicated in an Aug. 12 letter to three California congressmen when Richmond, Calif., was facing private lawsuits to prevent it from condemning and refinancing underwater private-label loans.  National Mortgage News reported that the letters says, “Pending legal developments and possible further execution of the plans in questions, HUD does not know whether any new mortgage which might be created would qualify for insurance by the Federal Housing Administration.”

Fannie Mae Launches Appraiser Quality Monitoring Website

Posted in Appraisers

The Appraisal Institute announced that Fannie Mae launched a website focused on its new Appraiser Quality Monitoring process, which evaluates appraisals for data accuracy and consistency. The site gives lenders access to a list of appraisers whose reports will be subject to 100 percent review or no longer accepted by Fannie. Sellers and servicers approved by the government-sponsored enterprise can access the review list of appraisers through the website’s Technology Manager.

Fannie will offer a formal rebuttal process for appraisers whose work has been identified on the review list and who wish to dispute their listing. Appraisers who are sent letters for reports that exhibit a pattern of minor inconsistencies, inaccuracies or data anomalies will not have a formal rebuttal process because the letter is intended for instructional purposes to provide them with an opportunity to improve their work; appraisers can, however, respond to the letter.

Veros: Property Appreciation Approaching Peak Levels

Posted in Uncategorized

Veros Real Estate Solutions has reported that, although residential real estate values and appreciation grew during the fourth quarter of 2013, it was at a slower rate than previous quarters.  This may indicate that the market is topping out, Veros has concluded.  That report analyzed 345 metro areas.  It indicated an average of 5.1 percent appreciation on home prices is expected for the top 100 metro areas over the next 12 months — up from the fourth quarter’s 4.8 percent rate of appreciation. The five strongest markets for appreciation are projected to be:

1. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif., at 13.4 percent 2. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., at 10.7 percent 3. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., at 10.2 percent 4. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif., at 9.6 percent 5. Midland, Texas, at 9.5 percent The five weakest markets for appreciation are projected to be:

1. Atlantic City, N.J., at -1.7 percent 2. Kingston, N.Y., at -1.7 percent 3. Fayetteville, N.C., at -1.3 percent 4. Norwich-New London, Conn., at -1.2 percent 5. Rockford, Ill., at -1.1 percent