The terms eminent domain and condemnation are often used by people to mean the same thing, but these terms actually have different meanings. Eminent domain is the right of the Government, or a private party acting under government authority, to take land for public use. Condemnation refers to the actual process of taking real property from a landowner. A condemning authority initiates the condemnation action.
In South Carolina, the only issue decided in a condemnation case is just compensation. Both case law and statutory law in South Carolina instruct that the only issues to be considered by a jury when determining just compensation is the value of the property to be taken, any diminution in the value of the landowner’s remaining property, plus any benefits which may have been provided by the acquisition.
In valuing property, South Carolina law requires an appraiser to consider the property’s highest and best use. Highest and best use is a phrase used by appraisers to describe the most favorable use to which the property may reasonably be put in the not-too-distant future. This future use must not be too remote in time, and it must not be speculative. The potential of property may be considered as an element affecting value, but it is not sufficient to show that the potential is a mere possibility. It must be shown that the potential is reasonably probable.
If you’re facing the possibility of a condemnation action, give me a call for a free initial consultation.
Blog post by attorney Ryan McCarty. Click here to learn more about Ryan.
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