A question we hear at almost every single seminar held is “why?”

Why can’t I fight the State myself? I know an appraiser; why can’t I just ask him to draft an appraisal of my property and save money on attorney’s fees?

It seems simple enough during the seminar–and that may be due in part to our lawyers’ concise explanations during presentaiton–but in reality there are many reasons, both tangible and tangible, why an Illinois landowner should seek legal counsel rather than go it alone when facing condemnation. Let’s go through a couple of them:

1. Deadlines. There are absolute deadlines as part of an Illinois eminent domain suit that can be fatal if missed. You might have a great appraisal with a star witness, but if you miss the deadline to respond appropriately to the Complaint, your goose is cooked before you had a chance to prep it.

2. Appraisals. Not every appraisal is created equally. I repeat: NOT EVERY APPRAISAL IS CREATED EQUALLY. A bank appraisal does not equal an eminent domain appraisal. A tax assessment is not an eminent domain appraisal. Most importantly, a bad eminent domain appraisal IS NOT a good eminent domain appraisal. As one can assume, different appraisals accomplish different goals. Whereas a refinancing appraisal may estimate the value of your house, it does a poor job estimating the effect a roadway or powerline has on the value of your property. Indeed, even eminent domain appraisals do not always do an adequate job. Some appraisers are simply put better than others. The key is identifying these good appraisers and maximize just compensation for the landowner. An eminent domain attorney knows who these good appraisers are.


3. Knowledge. Building off “appraisals,” a good eminent domain attorney not only knows how to identify a good appraiser but also knows how to build a strategy for the appraiser to follow. This strategy is rooted in knowledge of the nooks and crevices of eminent domain law that only a condemnation attorney knows. For example, there is a big difference between telling an appraiser to simply appraise the property before the acquisition and after the acquisition and telling the appraiser to take into account the effect the taking has on zoning, ordinances, assemblage of properties, highest and best use, etc…Even the best eminent domain appraiser still can miss out on pockets of compensation on your property. An eminent domain attorney has the treasure map for these pockets.

4. Respect. It is an unfortunate reality, but often attorneys for the condemning authority, and the authority itself, will not take a pro se landowner seriously in litigation. For better or worse, many state attorneys do not assume a landowner has what it takes to stick with a complex and foreign eminent domain procedure, and will act accordingly. This disrespect will formulate itself in the way of low-ball settlement offers (if any) and a complete refusal to adequately negotiate. An experienced eminent domain attorney with a reputation to fight for the landowner lets the State know you’re serious, and forces them to listen.


5. Piece of Mind. One piece of advice we always bestow to the client is to let us worry about it. Condemnation is a taxing process, emotionally and mentally. It can tear apart families and cause unneeded stress on the landowner. That’s why our motto is: “let us worry about it for you.” Take the weight of your shoulders and load it up on ours because that’s our job.

There are many other reasons, and we’d love to provide them for you.

-Jordan Walker, Sever Storey

Eminent Domain and Condemnation Attorneys for Landowners

For more information about the eminent domain attorneys at Sever Storey, or if you are involved in your own eminent domain dispute, please contact our office at any time at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at www.landownerattorneys.com.