Friday, December 27, 2013

Board Finds Respondent with Burden Failed to Support Property's Assessed Value

Excerpts of the Board's Determination follow:

The 2011 assessment was $91,400.00 and the 2012 assessment was $118,100.00. This increase is more than 5%. Moreover, the parties agree the Respondent has the burden of proving the 2012 assessment is correct.

c. To support the assessment, the Respondent offered a comparative market analysis that examined three nearby properties. It concluded the average square foot value of those properties was $116. Resp’t Ex. 6.

d. The comparative market analysis relies on the sales comparison approach to establish value. In order to use a sales-comparison approach as evidence in an assessment appeal one must first show that the properties being examined are comparable to each other. Conclusory statements that a property is “similar” or “comparable” to another property are not probative evidence. Long, 821 N.E.2d at 470-471. Instead, one must identify the characteristics of the property under appeal and explain how those characteristics compare to the characteristics of the purportedly comparable properties. Similarly, one must explain how any differences between the properties affect their relative market values-in-use. Id. This is especially true where, as in this appeal, the sales prices of the alleged comparable properties range from $85,000 to $197,500. Here, the comparative market analysis offers only a minimal description of the homes’ features.

e. Undisputed testimony from the Petitioners identified significant differences among the homes, yet the Respondent offered no additional comparison of the properties or an analysis of the impact on value resulting from these differences. Further, the Respondent’s witness testified sales from 2011 and 2012 were to be examined for the 2012 assessment. Two of the identified sales, however, occurred in 2010, yet the comparative market analysis showed no adjustment for time of sale. Accordingly, this comparative market analysis is of no probative value.

f. The Board has generally held that if the burden-shifting statute applies, the assessor’s failure to prove that the assessment was correct requires lowering the property’s value to the previous year’s level, in this case $91,400. The Petitioners, however, asserted the correct assessment should be $95,000, which approximates both the prior year’s assessment and the middle of the range of values provided by the Petitioners. Under these circumstances, the Board will not make the assessed value less than the Petitioners claimed. The total assessment therefore will be reduced to the value proposed by the Petitioners, $95,000.