Header graphic for print

Eminent Domain and Real Estate Valuation Blog

Condemnation and Real Estate Litigation

Fla. Court Sets New Eminent Domain Atty Fee Guidelines

Posted in Eminent Domain

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a formula in the state law used to calculate attorneys’ fees in state eminent domain cases is unconstitutional where there is excessive litigation by the condemning public authority. The Court issued its ruling in response to a certified question of great public importance from the Fifth District Court of Appeal, arising out of a dispute between a group of condemnees against the Central Florida Expressway Authority.

The Court stressed the importance of preserving private property owners’ right to full compensation in eminent domain cases under the Florida Constitution, while maintaining consideration of the Florida Legislature’s previous actions setting the benefits-achieved formula for calculating attorneys’ fees. “We conclude that where private property owners are forced to defend against excessive litigation caused by a condemning authority, a mandatory statutory formula that generates a fee award below that which is considered reasonable denies those property owners their right to the full compensation that is guaranteed by the Florida Constitution,” Justice R. Fred Lewis wrote in the Supreme Court’s opinion.

The Supreme Court declined to attempt to define what constitutes excessive litigation, saying only that it is generally litigation that “diverges from what both trial courts and the legal community would normally expect” in a standard eminent domain case, and that the state’s trial courts are best suited to make that determination.


Study States Solar Energy Systems Increase Home Values

Posted in Appraisers

The impact “green” aspects of a property has on its value continues to be a subject of study and debate. The Appraisal Institute recently reported that a study by a member specializing in the valuation of green homes found that homes with host-owned solar photovoltaic energy systems are sold at a premium compared to homes without PV systems.

Sandra K. Adomatis, SRA, of Punta Gorda, Florida, served as the lead author of the study, which engaged a team of seven appraisers, with the support of the U.S. Dept. of energy, across six states to determine the value added to homes with host-owned PV systems. The study – “Appraising Into The Sun: Six-State Solar Home Paired-Sales Analysis” – compared comparable sales of 43 homes in six states: California, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon and Pennsylvania.  The study can be found at: https://emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/lbnl-1002778.pdf

Cong. Committee Considers Bill Limiting Eminent Domain For Power-Line Projects

Posted in Eminent Domain

Members of the Arkansas Congressional Delegation have introduced legislation aimed to give more leverage to states faced with new interstate power-line projects. Sen. John Boozman and Rep. Steve Womack have submitted matching versions of the Assuring Private Property Rights Over Vast Access to Land, or APPROVAL, Act, which would rewrite Section 1222 of the 2005 Energy Policy Act in the House and Senate. They recently testified before a house subcommittee in support of their bills

The bill is a response to a proposal by Clean Line Energy Partners of Houston to construct a $2 billion, 700-plus-mile, 3,500 megawatt, high-voltage-direct-current power line from Great Plains wind farms to the Tennessee Valley Authority. The APPROVAL Act would require the Department of Energy to obtain approval from a governor and state public service commission prior to approval of any Section 1222 transmission project and subsequent use of federal eminent domain, as well as the approval of any tribal government for the affected lands.

“States and local communities must know their voices will be heard in the transmission siting process and that a transparent process will be followed,” Boozman said Wednesday to the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans.

Trump Eminent Domain Position Remains Controversial

Posted in Eminent Domain

Donald Trump continues to be attacked by his primary opponents regarding his most prior use of eminent domain. For example, Marco Rubio criticized Trump’s position and then touted legislation he supported to limit the use of eminent domain when he was a Florida state legislator.

In one interview with Fox News, Trump said, “Eminent domain — when it comes to jobs, roads, the public good — I think it’s a wonderful thing. I fully understand the conservative approach, but I don’t think it was explained to most conservatives.”

Most recently, Trump had the following exchange with Chris Wallace:

WALLACE: You say that eminent domain is wonderful, and you —

TRUMP: I didn’t say wonderful, I say eminent domain is something you need Chris. Eminent domain – if I build a highway – go ahead. I know exactly what you’re saying. But if I build a highway, and if something’s in the way of the highway, you’re going to have to do something with that.

WALLACE: I understand that. And that’s the idea of using – taking private property for a public use. But –

TRUMP: And by the way, people get paid for it. Everyone thinks they don’t get paid. They get paid a lot of money.

WALLACE: Do you support taking private property for private use?

TRUMP: If somebody has a property in the middle of a 7,000 job factory, as an example, that’s going to move into the town – but they need this one corner of this property, and it’s going to provide 7,000 jobs in a community that’s dying, of which we have many in this country, OK? I am for that. That’s a big economic development. But remember this: all of these people that we’re talking about, they’re friends of mine. They all love the Keystone Pipeline, right? The Keystone Pipeline is all eminent domain. They’re building that pipeline without eminent domain, you wouldn’t be able to build.

WALLACE: But let me ask you since you were involved in a case like this, as you know, in the 90s —

TRUMP: That’s true. That was an economic development.

WALLACE: — in Atlantic City.

TRUMP: Sure.

WALLACE: You had your hotel, and you wanted to build a parking lot where some woman had her house —

TRUMP: She saved me a fortune.

WALLACE: But I guess the question is why do you need to take her house, for a parking lot?

TRUMP: I tell you what. Because I have a hotel, and in order to expand the hotel and add 2,000 rooms, I would have had to take her thing. Now, the 2,000 rooms would have provided about 2,500 jobs, Ultimately offered a lot of money, she didn’t take it, I didn’t build the job. I didn’t do it. Saved me a lot of money because Atlantic City, you know, I had the good sense to leave 7 years ago. I got very lucky. Yeah, I think that would have been a good eminent domain because you would have provided thousands of jobs. And this is a woman who couldn’t have cared less about her house. All she wanted was money.




D.C. Uses Eminent Domain For New Stadium

Posted in Eminent Domain

Washington, D.C. has initiated eminent domain proceedings to acquire property for its new soccer stadium. D.C. United’s new stadium will be located at an industrial site about a mile away from Nationals Park. The team will spend $150 million to build the stadium itself. The Major League Soccer team currently plays at RFK Stadium.

Eminent Domain Possible For New St. Louis Stadium

Posted in Eminent Domain

The St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority voted 9-0 Wednesday to use the power of eminent domain if necessary to assemble land for a new stadium. The authority oversaw construction of the domed stadium downtown two decades ago and is doing the same in early planning for a new open-air stadium. The 88-acre site north of downtown consists of 103 parcels. A representative said they would seek condemnation only if a landowner refused to negotiate or to clarify land-title issues, such as liens on property.

Attacks On Trump For Eminent Domain Use Continue

Posted in Eminent Domain

Opponents of Donald Trump are using his eminent domain background to attack Trump. As NPR recently reported “Republicans eager to blunt Donald Trump’s front-runner status in the GOP presidential primary think they’ve found the issue that will finally sink the billionaire’s White House hopes: eminent domain.”

A recent ad by the Club for Growth proclaims “Trump supports eminent domain abuse. He can make millions, while we lose our property rights.” This ad is being aired in Iowa. According to the ad, Trump responded to the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Kelo, by saying, “I happen to agree with it 100 percent.”

Trump is also being criticized again for a case in which a woman’s home was taken in Atlantic City for a project involving one of his casinos. “This guy’s a bully,” says David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, a prominent anti eminent domain group. “Using the power of government to take a widow’s property is pretty much the definition of a bully.”

Appraisal Foundation Addresses Feud With Appraisal Institute

Posted in Appraisers

There has been an ongoing feud between perhaps the 2 most important appraisal organizations – the Appraisal Institute and the Appraisal Foundation.  The Institute has been publicly critical of the Foundation and resigned from the Foundation about 5 years ago.  Now, the Foundation has responded very forcefully.

In an open letter to valuation professionals, the Foundation stated that “[r]ecent communications by the Appraisal Institute (the Institute) are calculated attempts to fracture the whole.  This month marks the fifth anniversary of the Appraisal Institute’s decision to resign from The Appraisal Foundation, rather than face a suspension for violating the Foundation’s Code of Conduct for Sponsoring Organizations.  Instead of coming together with their peers, working collaboratively, and respecting the opinions of others to further a common purpose, leaders of the Appraisal Institute aim to splinter the profession.  This divide and conquer approach is short-sighted, damages the profession, and must stop.”

The Foundation then told its side of the story regarding efforts “to repair the relationship and solidify what has been collaboratively built over the last 28 years.”  This included what it described as “Offering Olive Branches” including “three face-to-face meetings between the leadership of the Appraisal Institute and The Appraisal Foundation, none of which were initiated by the Institute.”  The Foundation also accused the Institute of creating “a false narrative” and was critical of the Institute’s new “Standards of Valuation Practice.”

In conclusion the Foundation stated, “[t]he rift between The Appraisal Foundation, the Congressionally-authorized source of valuation standards and qualifications, and the Appraisal Institute, one of the nation’s largest appraiser trade associations, is a detriment to the profession and needs to be resolved.”  Regardless of fault, that last statement is undeniably true and this “rift” needs to be resolved.



Rand Paul Attacks Trump Eminent Domain Use

Posted in Eminent Domain

Kentucky Senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul has added eminent domain as an area to attack Donald Trump. For example, Paul raised this issue at an appearance in Idaho and a call with Alaska reporters. Paul called Trump a “fake conservative” citing, in part Trump’s eminent domain action against Vera Coking, a retired homeowner in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 1993, Trump expanded his property holdings, and he bought several lots adjacent to his property in order to build a parking lot for limousines. Coking, who had lived in her home for about 35 years, refused to sell. Trump and the city of Atlantic City condemned her house using the power of eminent domain.

“I don’t believe that most Idahoans support eminent domain,” Paul said. In his call with the Alaska reporters, Paul said, “Donald Trump’s been a big fan of [eminent domain]. He used it in his business model and has really shown no consideration for small private property owners.

Appraisal Institute Adopts Valuers Code of Professional Ethics

Posted in Appraisers

The Appraisal Institute Board of Directors at its July 30-31 meeting in Dallas adopted the proposed Valuers Code of Professional Ethics as a model code and approved making the VCPE available for use by non-AI professionals as a companion document to the Appraisal Institute Standards of Valuation Practice. The Institute describes the VCPE as containing “high quality, straightforward, principles-based and strict canons and rules of ethical conduct that valuers can follow when national or international ethical codes do not apply or are not required.”  AI explained, “To develop the proposed VCPE, the Professional Standards and Guidance Committee (PSGC) started with the Appraisal Institute Code of Professional Ethics (CPE), removed obligations and terminology unique to Appraisal Institute professionals (e.g., cooperating with an Appraisal Institute peer review committee) and adjusted remaining language to ensure universality.”