The lawyers at Womack McClish Wall & Foster, P.C., based in Austin, Texas, have 75 years of combined experience representing urban and rural landowners in Texas in eminent domain, condemnation, property rights, and vested rights matters, ranging from administrative settlements and Special Commissioners' Hearings to civil trials and appeals.
Questions our attorneys frequently receive include:
- Can I refuse to sell my property to the government?
- Do I get to name my own price?
- How does the condemnation process work?
- Can the government take possession of my land while I am waiting for a court to review the Special Commissioners' award?
- Do I need to hire legal counsel?
- Can I afford legal counsel?
Can I refuse to sell my property to the government?
Generally speaking, the government has the power to compel you to transfer your property. In some circumstances, this right can be challenged. Regardless, the government always has the obligation to pay you fair market value for your land.
Do I get to name my own price?
The law requires that the government pay compensation based on what a willing buyer and seller would agree on for your property in the marketplace. Both you and the government are allowed to put forth evidence of what this price would be, based on relevant market data, before a court-appointed panel of three Special Commissioners.
How does the condemnation process work?
There are generally three basic stages in the condemnation process: (1) the negotiation stage which begins when the government makes you an offer; (2) the Special Commissioners Hearing stage, during which the Commission hears evidence related to the value of your land and determines the amount of money to be awarded; and (3) judicial appeal, allowing you to object to the Special Commissioners' award before a court, which may lead to a trial by jury or judge. For a more complete description of this process, please see our condemnation process page.
Can the government take possession of my land while I am waiting for a court to review the Special Commissioners' award?
Generally, the government may take possession of your land once the Special Commissioners have issued an award, even if you file an objection with the court. However, the government must pay you the amount awarded for the value of your land as determined by the Special Commissioners, plus any costs included in the award, or deposit that amount with the court. If the court reverses the Special Commissioners' award and returns your property to you, the government must also pay you damages for your temporary displacement.
Do I need to hire legal counsel?
It will generally be in your best interest to hire legal counsel, because doing so often results in the government paying you a higher price for your property. The valuation of property requires a comprehensive understanding of the appraisal process and legal principles affecting the amount of fair and adequate compensation. The government is experienced in taking property, but because our practice is almost exclusively devoted to condemnation and land use issues, we have the experience and expertise to effectively counter its considerable resources.
Can I afford legal counsel?
Unfortunately, many landowners have been led to believe that if they hire lawyers to handle condemnation cases, they won't see any recovery at all. This is not the case. We take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay no legal fees until you obtain compensation. Furthermore, our fees are determined based on the amount of compensation you receive above the offer the government has already made. Depending on your needs, you may alternately choose to employ us at our hourly rate.
For more information about how we can help you or your organization, call Womack McClish Wall & Foster, P.C. at (512) 474-9875 for a free consultation.