January 19, 2023

Right-of-Way Employee Spotlight: Lance Lunte, MAI

Lochmueller Group’s Land Acquisition & Right-of-Way Department consists of real estate appraisers and negotiators that have a main function of acquiring various property rights from landowners through eminent domain.

em•i•nent do•main (noun) – the process of acquiring the property rights for additional right-of-way; a government entity acquiring private property for public use with just compensation.

Public roadways or projects such as airports, pipelines, transmission or other utility lines, waterways, levees, and conservation areas require land area in fee (complete) ownership or other property rights, such as easements, to complete the projects for the greater public good and safety.

right-of-way (noun) – the area that is necessary for the project; the land on which a road, railroad, or utility is built.

The appraisal is required to estimate the market value and appropriate compensation for the necessary and proposed acquisition of property rights. The negotiator makes offers of compensation, works through the process of obtaining an agreement with the property owners for just compensation, and gets all documents properly executed to successfully complete and record a deed for the acquired property rights. Just compensation is what the Land Acquisition team is all about!

The perfect scenario = The property owner agrees to a negotiated settlement, completing the land acquisition process for one property.

If a negotiated agreement can’t be reached between the government entity and property owner, the government entity typically has the right of condemnation.

con•dem•nation (noun) – a court process to obtain the necessary property rights for just compensation determined by a judge, tribunal, or jury of peers.

In Illinois, the condemnation process typically consists of a jury trial and steps that are part of the trial process, including discovery, deposition testimony, and courtroom testimony. There are two types of witnesses in a trial: ordinary and expert witnesses. Ordinary witnesses can only testify to facts. Expert witnesses can testify to fact, documentary evidence, and express opinions; however, the court must recognize and qualify an expert before opinions can be expressed, which is established at the beginning of testimony.

Meet Lance Lunte, MAI, Senior Appraiser in the Right-of-Way Department! Lance has been recognized and has testified as an expert witness over 100 times primarily for jury trials related to eminent domain and condemnation.

Lance joined the Lochmueller team in 2008 and has since accumulated nearly 15 years at Lochmueller Group, totaling over 40 years of experience. In his position, Lance is responsible for completing real estate appraisal assignments within projects related to eminent domain or other intended uses for clients outside of eminent domain, as well as promoting and maintaining a good working relationship with clients requiring appraisal services.

After completing a Bachelor of Business in Accounting degree from Western Illinois University, Lance spent three years working in Internal Reporting for a Fortune 500 company in Clayton, Missouri. He then joined his father’s real estate and appraisal business, where he obtained a real estate broker’s license and ultimately began the real estate appraisal journey. Lance obtained two designations through the Appraisal Institute, Senior Residential Appraiser (SRA) and Member of the Appraisal Institute (MAI), which require the highest level of educational and experience requirements in the appraisal industry. Additionally, Lance has Certified General Real Estate Appraisal licenses in Illinois and Missouri.

Lance became owner of his father’s company after six years and owned the company for 19 years thereafter. Throughout this time, Lance appraised practically every type of real estate property, including small vacant lots, apartments, commercial retail, offices, restaurants, strip centers, malls, convenience stores with gas sales facilities, industrial warehouses, manufacturing and distribution facilities, and all types of agriculture-related properties. He also started to appraise properties for eminent domain related to roadway projects for IDOT. After being approached by Lochmueller Group regarding an upcoming eminent domain appraisal project, Lance officially accepted an offer to join the Lochmueller team as Senior Appraiser in 2008.

Nearly 15 years at a company lends itself to a number of diverse experiences. Some of Lance’s favorite projects are the most unique projects that he has worked on or those that included challenges in terms of the type of property or property rights being acquired. In particular, the SR 159 project through Collinsville sticks out as a favorite. Lance completed appraisals of 75+ types of commercial and apartment properties. The acquisition of new right-of-way was along a tight, urban type of corridor requiring many challenging appraisals with varying types of damages to the value of properties.

Another of Lance’s favorites was the Mississippi River Levee project. In order for recertification of the levee system to the 100-year flood level by the U.S. Corps of Engineers and FEMA, the project consisted of levee improvements along the river levee within three counties in the St. Louis Metro-East. Lance, being the only appraiser on this particular project, acquired permanent easements from over 100 properties along the Mississippi River Levee system.

Lastly, the Enbridge Pipeline project from Livingston County through Marion County, Illinois, is also a favorite project for Lance. He only ended up appraising 20 properties, three of which he testified at in the jury trial, but the entire process was new and challenging based on client demands and expectations. The level of research, interviews completed with property owners and other market participants, and industry experts, is unrivaled by any other project Lance has worked on in the past or most certainly in his future.

Although he may have never intended to end his own successful business, we are lucky to have gained Lance and his expertise back in 2008 and are even more thankful that he’s still committed to our Right-of-Way team today! To learn more about Right-of-Way Engineering & Services, visit our website.

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