The acquisition section of the real estate division acquires property needed for construction of city projects. The staff is licensed and certified in right-of-way acquisition to acquire property for ongoing city infrastructure projects.

Acquisition section responsibilities

  • Reviews all city project plans and maps for accuracy
  • Meets with all property owners to explain the impact of a city project on their property
  • Collaborates with city departments to resolve the owner’s concerns about the project
  • Determines when the application of eminent domain to a "property taking" is necessary
  • Negotiates just compensation for the taking of an owner’s property
  • Collaborates with city departments to resolve the owner’s concerns about the project
  • Prepares all property transactions for City Council approval

Acquisition staff interacts with the public on a daily basis, making sure their rights are protected. Their overarching goal is to balance the best interests of the city and its taxpayers with those of the individual property owner affected by public projects.


How is property acquired by the City of Charlotte?

The acquisition of property required for a public improvement occurs after an extensive and thorough engineering process that includes a series of planning and design phases which lead to a determination that the property is necessary in order to construct the public improvement. You may have attended one or more of the public hearings that form a part of the overall process. 

When it is necessary for the City to acquire private property, a map is prepared which shows in detail the extent of right of way and easements needed from each property. Title to the private property required is vested or transferred to the City when the conveyance documents are recorded in the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds. However, before any transfer of title takes place, you will receive a copy of the map, a thorough explanation of the acquisition and, if property is not donated, a firm offer of compensation in writing.


Who will contact me?

Probably the first person to contact you will be a consultant real estate agent, a representative of the City of Charlotte who will explain how your property is affected and provide you with information concerning the proposed acquisition. An appraiser may also visit the property to assemble valuation data. The appraiser will examine all features of the property which affect its value. Any information you can give with regard to your property is welcomed and you are encouraged to accompany the appraiser during the inspection. 


How does the City determine what I will receive for my property?

The law requires us to pay each property owner the fair market value which, generally, is the same amount of money that the sale of the property would bring under current market conditions. The initial offer will be a "value estimate" based on the property's tax value. If needed, an appraisal may be done. In making its appraisal, the Appraiser examines the various features of your property, and the prices at which properties similar to yours are being sold. You will receive a summary statement showing the basis for the establishment of fair market value as developed by the appraisal and listing other benefits to which you will be entitled.


Who will appraise my property?

This analysis is completed by Independent Certified MAI General Real Estate Appraisers, who have received special training in this field and have had years of experience in evaluating real estate. These appraisers, through their research and analysis of the real estate market, are thoroughly familiar with property values of the area. Their job is to objectively determine the value of the property to be acquired and damages, if any, caused by the acquisition.


How soon will I be paid?

The City endeavors to make payment as rapidly as possible after an agreement is signed. In every case, we will try to make payment before the contractor has to enter upon your property. Typically, you can expect to receive your check six to eight weeks after City Council approves the transaction. However, if your parcel needs to be sent to a closing attorney it may take longer, due to lender releases, liens, etc. The real estate representative will explain this to you in greater detail. The sooner a settlement is reached and all the necessary documents executed, the sooner the transaction can be processed and full payment made.


What about liens, mortgages or unpaid taxes on my property?

A title search is completed by the City on most properties acquired at no expense to the property owner. Any outstanding liens, mortgages or unpaid taxes will have to be satisfied out of your settlement. At the time of payment, the City will draw separate checks for any such obligations and pay the balance to you. 


What about property taxes I have paid in advance?

The City reimburses the owner the pro-rata portion of real property taxes, which became a lien on the property prior to the City’s ownership, but which cover a period following the acquisition. For example, if the City acquires the property six months after the beginning of the year for which taxes were paid, the City would return to the owner 50 percent of the tax payment made by the owner for the 12-month period. 


Am I required to donate an easement?

The City routinely requests a donation of the needed property interests based upon public benefit. Property owners are under no obligation to donate and should be informed they are due just compensation for all property rights requested by the City. If a property owner chooses not to donate, the City may elect not to perform the work or proceed with monetary negotiations.


What if I don't agree with the appraisal?

You may obtain your own appraisal. The City will then have both appraisal reviewed by a third appraiser who will review both and submit an estimate of value.




Glossary of Terms


The process of acquiring property (real estate) or some interest therein. See the definition of real property.



An independent and impartial estimate of the monetary value of a property interest. The appraisal is supported by an analysis of relevant market data.



Any lawful activity conducted primarily for sale of services or products to the public for a profit.



The legal process of acquiring private property for public use or purpose through the agency's power of eminent domain. Condemnation is usually not used until all attempts to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement through negotiations have failed. An agency then goes to court to acquire the needed property.


Displaced person, displacee or relocatee

Any person or business who moves from the real property or moves personal property from the real property as a result of an acquisition of the real property



In general, an easement is the right of one person to use all or part of the property of another person for some specific purpose. Easements can be permanent or temporary (i.e. limited to a stated period of time). The term may be used to describe either the right itself or the document conferring the right. Examples include permanent easement for utilities, permanent easement for perpetual maintenance of drainage structures and temporary easement to allow reconstruction of a driveway during construction.


Eminent domain

The right of government to take private property for public use. In the United States, just compensation must be paid for private property acquired for federally funded programs or projects.


Fair market value

The sale price that a willing and informed seller and a willing and informed buyer agree upon for a particular property.



Any lawful activity conducted primarily for the production and sale of agricultural products in sufficient quantity to be contributing material support for the operator.


Just compensation

The price an agency must pay to acquire real property. An agency offic8ial must make the estimate of just compensation to be offered to you for the property needed. That amount may not be less than the amount established in the approved appraisal report as the fair market value for your property. If you and the agency cannot agree on the amount of just compensation to be paid for the property needed, and it becomes necessary for the agency to use the condemnation process, the amount determined by the court will be the just compensation for your property.



A lien is a charge against a property in which the property is the security for payment of a debt. A mortgage is a lien. So are taxes. Customarily, liens must be paid in full when the property is sold.


Market value

The sale price that a willing and informed seller and a willing and informed buyer agree to for a particular property.



The process used by an agency to reach an amicable agreement with a property owner for the acquisition of needed property. An offer is made for the purchase of property in person or by mail and the offer is discussed with the owner.


Personal property

In general, property that can be moved (e.g. furniture, lawn mower, etc.) is personal property. It is not permanently attached to, or a part of, the real property. Personal property is not usually purchased but instead is moved if it is in the area of the acquisition of real property.


Real property

The land and everything growing on it, attached to it or erected on it, but not including anything that may be severed from the land without injuring it.



An individuall or family having temporary possession and lawful occupancy of the real property belonging to another with consent.


Uneconomic remnant

The portion of property that remains after the City acquires the property needed for a program. That remained has been determined by the appraisal to have little or no value or utility to the owner. The City may offer to purchase a remnant, but the owner may refuse the offer and keep it.


Waiver valuation

An administrative process for estimating fair market value for relatively low-value, non-complex acquisitions. A waiver valuation is prepared in lieu of an appraisal.