Acquisition Process

It is often necessary to acquire real property for a public project. When this is necessary, Real Property Division staff will work with property owners to acquire the needed property by mutual agreement.

The most common forms of acquisition are Fee Purchase, Easement Purchase, Temporary Easements, Rights of Entry, and Lease.

Frequently Asked Questions

What right does any public agency have to acquire my property?

Every government has the right to acquire private property for public use, known as the power of eminent domain. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution specifies that no private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

What will Harris County pay me for my property?

You will be paid fair market value for your property whether your property is acquired through settlement or condemnation proceedings. Market Value is the price by which a willing seller could reasonably expect to receive if his or her property was sold to a willing buyer. This office will hire a state licensed Real Estate Appraiser to value your property. This process is further explained in the Appraisal Process FAQ’s.

Who will make me a purchase offer for my property?

After the appraisal report has been completed, a Harris County Real Property Division Agent will contact you to schedule an appointment at your convenience to visit you at your house or business to present you with the county’s purchase offer. The agent will discuss the value in detail with you and will answer any questions you may have about the purchase of your property.

How much time do I have to decide on the purchase offer?

Once the offer is presented, you will have about 4 weeks to decide if you would like to accept or reject the offer. If you accept, the agent will prepare the necessary conveyance documents and the closing on your property will take place in about 6 weeks.

What happens if I do not accept the offer?

You have the right to decline the offer amount should you find it inadequate. If you find the offer unacceptable, we ask that you provide us with evidence as to the amount you believe is the value of your property so that we can make every reasonable effort to consider and adjust our offer price if warranted. However, should we fail to reach an agreement on a price, you have the right to contest the offer by going before three special commissioners at a condemnation hearing. These special commissioners are appointed by the Judge of the court to serve as disinterested landowners to determine the value. It takes approximately 3 months for the County to schedule a hearing. The hearing is very informal and you do not need an attorney. The County will be represented by an Assistant County Attorney along with the appraiser hired by the County. At this hearing, you will need to present evidence as to why you feel your property is worth more than the County’s offer. The Special Commissioners will listen to both sides and decide what should be the appropriate price for the property in the form of an “Award”.

After a condemnation hearing, how do I get paid for my property?

In approximately 6 weeks after the condemnation hearing, the money to pay the condemnation award will be deposited by the County in The Court’s Registry and the County will take possession of your property. You must submit to the Court a Motion to Withdraw Funds to receive payment for the award. The Court will address any mortgages, liens or encumbrances against the property before allowing you to withdraw your share of the deposited award.

If I disagree with the Special Commissioners award, what can I do?

Either you or the County can appeal the award established by the Special Commissioners by filing objections with the County Court at Law handling the case. Afterward, the case will be tried in the same manner as other civil cases, likely with a jury determining just compensation for the property being acquired.