Monday, May 19, 2014

Board Finds Foreclosure Sale Failed to Prove Value of Property

Excerpts of the Board's Determination follow: 

c) The Trust relies mainly on the fact that it purchased the subject property for $10,000, plus $2,000 in expenses, on December 8, 2006. True, a property’s sale price can be compelling evidence of its market value-in-use. The Assessor argues, and the Trust admits, the property was purchased from Wells Fargo Bank, out of foreclosure.

d) The Manual provides the following definition of “market value”:

The most probable price (in terms of money) which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller each acting prudently and knowledgeably, and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus. Implicit in this definition is the consummation of a sale as of a specified date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby: 

i. The buyer and seller are typically motivated;
ii. Both parties are well informed and advised and act in what they consider their best interests;
iii. A reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market;
iv. Payment is made in terms of cash or in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto;
v. The price is unaffected by special financing or concessions.

MANUAL at 10. 

e) It is apparent from the Manual’s definition that a property purchased out of foreclosure may not reflect its market value for reasons such as a lack of exposure to the open market or the seller (i.e., the bank) not being typically motivated. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the party relying upon that sale to offer specific evidence to allay these concerns. See Lake County Assessor v. U.S. Steel Corp, 901 N.E.2d 85, 91-92 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2009) review denied (approving of the use of bankruptcy sales when taxpayer established that such sales were a market norm).

f) The Petitioner offered nothing to show that the property was listed on the market and nothing to establish that foreclosure sales were the market norm for the subject property’s neighborhood on January 1, 2007, and January 1, 2008.

g) However, the Assessor did not simply rest on an assertion that foreclosure-related sales can never be used to show market value-in-use; she offered specific evidence to support the inference that the particular transaction at issue was not a market-value sale. Specifically, the Assessor pointed out that prior to the foreclosure action, the subject property sold for $59,000. The Assessor, however, offered no details about this sale. Nonetheless, when taken as a whole, this fact raises questions about the reliability of the December 2006 sale price as a reflection of the property’s market value. In fact, Mr. Kollar requested that the property be assessed at a value greater than the December 2006 purchase price. Under these circumstances, the price that the Trust paid for the property is not probative of its market value-in-use.

h) Consequently, the Board finds that the Petitioner failed to make a prima facie case that the 2008 and 2009 assessments are incorrect. Where a Petitioner has not supported its claim with probative evidence, the Respondent’s duty to support the assessment with substantial evidence is not triggered. Lacy Diversified Indus. LTD v. Dep’t of Local Gov’t Fin., 799 N.E.2d 1215, 1221-22 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2003).