Friday, June 20, 2014

Board Finds Realtor's Opinions Fail to Support Reduction in Property's Value

Excerpt of the Board's Determination follow:

c) As set forth above, the Petitioner’s exhibits were excluded due to Mr. Hiles’ failure to comply with 52 IAC 3-1-5(d). In lacking documentary evidence to support his claim that the subject properties assessments are wrong, Mr. Hiles’ contentions amount to little more than conclusory statements. And conclusory statements do not constitute probative evidence. Whitley Products, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 704 N.E.2d 1113, 1120 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998). Thus, the Petitioner failed to make a prima facie case that the subject properties assessments should be lowered.

d) The result would have been no different even if the Board had considered the Petitioner’s evidence. The photographs of the property Mr. Hiles offered show that the house is in very poor condition. Just showing a property is in poor or in unlivable condition is not enough to establish that the subject assessments are in error. Mr. Hiles needed to offer probative evidence that establishes the effect of that deferred maintenance on the subject property’s market value-in-use as of the assessment date. Without more, Mr. Hiles’ photographs and testimony are not enough to make a prima facie case for changing the subject properties assessments.

e) Mr. Hiles did attempt to offer some sales comparison evidence. Specifically, he offered opinions of three realtors, two of whom offered written opinions of value. The two written opinions were based on purportedly comparable sales. The third realtor merely provided MLS listings for purportedly comparable properties.

f) To effectively use any kind of comparison approach to value a property, however, one must establish that the properties are truly comparable. Conclusory statements that properties are “similar” or “comparable” are not sufficient. Long, 821 N.E.2d at 470. The Petitioner is “responsible for explaining to the Indiana Board the characteristics of their own property, how those characteristics compared to those of the purportedly comparable properties, and how any differences affected the relevant market value-in-use of the properties.” Id. at 471.

g) The realtors and Mr. Hiles failed to offer the type of evidence contemplated by Long. Only a small amount of information was provided regarding the purportedly comparable properties, and none of the realtors provided any adjustments for differences between the listed or sold properties and the subject properties.

h) Furthermore, nothing in the record indicates that the realtors’ letters of opinion were prepared in accordance with USPAP or followed generally accepted appraisal principles. Additionally, both of the realtor’s opinion letters are dated November 21, 2013, and neither realtor offered an explanation to relate their opinions of value to the March 1, 2012, valuation date. See Whitley Products, Inc., 704 N.E.2d at 1113, 1119 (explaining that unsupported conclusory statements are not probative evidence). Accordingly, even if the exhibits presented by the Petitioner had been admitted into the record, they do not constitute probative evidence of what the 2012 assessments should be.

i) Thus, even had the Petitioner’s exhibits been admitted, the Petitioner still failed to make a prima facie case that the 2012 assessments were incorrect.

j) Where the Petitioner has not supported their claim with probative evidence, the Respondent’s duty to support the assessment with substantial evidence is not triggered. Lacy Diversified Indus. v. Dep’t of Local Gov’t Fin., 799 N.E.2d 1215, 1221-1222 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2003).