Monday, July 14, 2014

Board Finds Assessor's Sales Comparison Analysis Failed to Support Property's Assessed Value

Excerpts of the Board's Determination follow:

c) First, regarding the Respondent’s claim that an assessment is acceptable if it is within 10% of the property’s market value-in-use, it appears she may have confused that with the requirements of a mass-appraisal ratio study. An appeal of an individual assessment, however, is an entirely different matter. Further, the Respondent failed to provide any authority for her contention that an individual assessment is correct if it falls within 10% of the value.

d) In any case, the Respondent’s evidence does little to prove the subject property’s value. Regarding her offering of purportedly comparable sales, 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). Here, the Respondent did little to prove that the other properties were actually comparable to the subject property, as many of the purportedly comparable properties are not even located on the same lake. Moreover, she offered nothing to explain or account for any differences in the properties, and how those differences affected the respective values. Her evidence lacked the type of analysis contemplated by Long.

e) Her comparison to neighboring properties’ assessments similarly lacks probative value. True, a party to an appeal proceeding may introduce evidence of assessments of comparable properties located in the same taxing district or within two miles of the boundary of the taxing district. See Ind. Code § 6-1.1-15-18. But just as with the sales-comparison approach, the determination of whether the properties are comparable shall be based on generally accepted appraisal and assessment principles. Once again, the Respondent failed to offer a meaningful comparison of the parcels in terms of characteristics that would affect their respective market values-in-use.

f) Because the Respondent did not offer probative evidence to show the market value-in-use, she failed to make a prima facie case that the 2012 assessment is correct.  Therefore, the Petitioner is entitled to have that assessment returned to its 2011 level of $230,300. The Petitioner, though, sought an even lower assessment. The Board now turns to the Petitioner’s evidence.

18. The Petitioner failed to make a prima facie case for reducing the subject property’s assessment below the 2011 value.

a) The Petitioner offered assessment data for a nearby property and argued that his land assessment should be no higher than that property. Again, when comparing assessments, a party must both prove comparability and account for any differences between the properties by using generally accepted appraisal practices. Ind. Code § 6-1.1-15-18. The Petitioner’s evidence lacks any of that type of analysis. And while the Petitioner offered evidence that his lot is heavily sloped, merely establishing the existence of something that may affect a property’s value is not enough to require changing the assessment. To make a case, the Petitioner was required to offer probative evidence about what a more accurate valuation would be. See Talesnick v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 765 N.E.2d 1104, 1108 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2001). Here, the Petition failed to offer probative evidence of what the accurate valuation should be.

b) Further, the Petitioner argued that, for various reasons, his house was overvalued, and that a more accurate value would be between $10,000 and $12,000. But he offered no probative evidence to support that argument. Thus, his contention amounts to little more than a conclusory statement. Conclusory statements do not constitute probative evidence. Whitley Products, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 704 N.E.2d at 1113, 1119 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998).

c) The Petitioner failed to make a prima facie case for lowing the subject property’s 2012 assessment below the 2011 assessed value.