Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Respondent with Burden Failed to Support Property's Value with Comparable Sales Analysis

Excerpts of the Board's Determination follow:

Here, the subject property’s assessment increased from $43,500 in 2009 to $142,300 in 2010, clearly an increase of over 5%. While it can be argued that the Petitioner is only contesting the land value, the land assessment increased at an even greater rate from $11,200 in 2009 to $120,800 in 2010. As discussed above, the increase stemmed mainly from the Respondent’s decision to re-classify the land, and not from any addition or physical change to the property. Thus, the Respondent has the burden of proving that the 2010 assessment is correct. 

36. Here, the Respondent, through her witness Ms. Relos-Penrose, mainly argued that the subject property’s land is now correctly classified as lakefront rather than channel-front. But in making this argument, Ms. Relos-Penrose is relying on the methodology in computing the assessment. Just as it is not enough for a Petitioner to simply challenge the methodology used to compute the assessment, it is not enough for a Respondent to rely on methodology to defend an assessment. See Eckerling v. Wayne Twp. Assessor, 841 N.E.2d 674 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2006). Instead, Ms. Relos-Penrose was required to rely on market-based evidence to prove that the assessed value reflects the property’s market value-in-use, which she failed to do.

37. Ms. Relos-Penrose did attempt to prove, however, the subject property’s market value-in-use by offering sales comparisons analysis for three purportedly comparable properties. The Respondent recognizes that one can estimate the value of a subject property by analyzing the sales of comparable properties. A party offering such evidence must show that the properties are generally comparable to each other, and also must show how any relevant differences affect the relative values. See Long, 821 N.E.2d at 470-71 (holding that, in applying the sales-comparison approach, the taxpayers needed to explain how any differences between their property and the properties to which they sought to compare it affected the properties’ relevant market values-in-use). The problem here is that Ms. Relos-Penrose did little to compare her purported comparable properties to the subject property. Further, Ms. Relos-Penrose failed to provide any qualitative or quantitative analysis of any differences that existed between the subject property and her purported comparables. Therefore, her sale comparison lacked the type of analysis contemplated by Long.

38. Because the Respondent did not offer probative evidence of the property’s market value-in-use, she failed to meet her burden of proving that the assessment is correct. Here, the Petitioner did not request a specific value for the subject property. Therefore, the subject property’s 2010 assessment must be reduced to its previous year’s level of $43,500.