Friday, July 11, 2014

Board Finds Petitioner's Appraisal Provides Evidence of Property's Value that Listing Price did Not Impeach

Excerpts of the Board's Determination follow:

c) In this case, the Petitioners offered evidence of their purchase price, and two appraisal reports prepared by certified appraisers in accordance with USPAP. The Petitioners purchased the property for $700,000 in June 2011. Regarding the appraisals presented by the Petitioners, the first appraisal indicates the value should be $715,000 as of June 3, 2011. The second indicates a value of $750,000 as of August 3, 2012. According to the Petitioners, the difference in values stems from the fact that significant repairs were made to the property between the issuance of the two appraisals. The record is silent as to exactly when those repairs began, and when they were completed. Because the Petitioners requested a 2012 assessment of $750,000, the Board will assume that all of the repairs were completed before March 1, 2012, and that the entire increase in value resulting from those repairs had been realized at that point.

d) That being the case, the first appraisal, completed by Susan M. Dumford, lacks probative value, because it does not value the property as it existed on March 1, 2012. Similarly, the Petitioners’ purchase price also lacks probative value. However, the appraisal completed by Robert H. Dorsam is probative evidence. Mr. Dorsam valued the property as it evidently existed on March 1, 2012. And while the valuation date of his appraisal is not exactly precise to the assessment date, it is sufficiently close to give a strong indication of the property’s value as of March 1, 2012. Thus, through the Dorsam appraisal, the Petitioners made a prima facie case that the assessment should be reduced to $750,000.

e) Once the Petitioners establish a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the assessing official to rebut the Petitioner’s evidence. See American United Life Insurance Co. v. Maley, 803 N.E.2d 276 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2004). To rebut or impeach the Petitioner’s case, the Respondent has the same burden to present probative evidence that the Petitioner faced to raise its prima facie case. Fidelity Federal Savings & Loan v. Jennings County Ass’r, 836 N.E.2d 1075, 1082 (Ind. Tax Court 2005).

f) The Board first turns to the Respondent’s efforts to impeach the Petitioners’ appraisals. Because only the Dorsam appraisal was found to be probative, the Board will focus on only those arguments. The Respondent argued the purported comparable at 969 East Northshore Drive that sold in May of 2012, is after the assessment date for this appeal. She argued the sale of the property at 1177 East Northshore Drive is the result of a divorce. Moreover, she argued that the effective date of the entire appraisal is after the relevant timeframe for 2012 assessments.

g) First, regarding the date of the comparable sale, the Respondent failed to point to any authority restricting certified fee appraisers to the same date requirements for comparable sales that assessors must follow. As an expert in the field, a certified appraiser has the knowledge and experience to select comparable properties that he deems reasonable to prove the market value of a subject property as of a specified date. Although the appraisal date is a few months after the relevant valuation date that point is not significant. The Respondent offered no substantive evidence to contradict the Board’s finding that the value indicated in the appraisal is a reasonable estimate of the property’s value on March 1, 2012.

h) While it is possible that a divorce could have influenced the sale price, the Respondent offered no evidence that it actually did, or, more importantly, what a more accurate valuation would have been. Further, the fact that there may be a question regarding one of the sales in the sales-comparison approach does not render the entire appraisal unreliable.
i) The Respondent argued that before the Petitioners purchased the subject property, it was listed for sale for as much as $1.2 million. But the Respondent failed to explain why the listing price should carry more weight than the ultimate selling price in determining the property’s market value-in-use. In any event, neither the listing price nor the selling price is probative here because, as explained above, extensive repairs were made to the property between the purchase and March 1, 2012. Thus, this argument does not rebut the evidence presented by the Petitioners.

j) Finally, the Respondent pointed to four sales to support the current assessment. The Board assumes that the Respondent offered these sales because she thought the properties are comparable to the subject. The properties she offered sold for $350,000-$505,000. The subject property’s current assessment is $881,600. The Respondent offered no adjustments to qualify or quantify the differences. Consequently, this evidence does nothing to rebut the Petitioners’ case or support the current assessment.

k) For the reasons set forth, the Petitioners made a prima facie case that the 2012 assessment should be reduced to $750,000. The Respondent failed to impeach or rebut the Petitioners’ case.