Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Board Finds Taxpayer's Purchase of the Property Supported Reduction of Property's Value

Excerpts of the Board's Determination follow:

d. The crux of this particular dispute is whether the transaction where the Petitioners bought the subject property for $28,000 is a reliable indication of its value. According to the Petitioners it is and according to the Respondent it is not. The determination of this question requires examination of the circumstances surrounding that transaction. To be sure, for a sale price to be a reliable indicator of market value or market value-in-use, the sale must have involved typically motivated and informed parties, the property must have been exposed to the open market for a reasonable time, the payment must have been made in terms of cash or comparable financial arrangements, and the price must have been unaffected by special financing or concessions.

e. The Respondent attacked the Petitioners’ evidence because they purchased the property from a bank that obtained the property after a foreclosure. According to Mr. McDonald, this type of sale cannot be used by assessors in ratio studies for market comparisons. He characterized it as a forced distressed sale. The Respondent’s argument implies that a similar prohibition applies in this case, but cited no authority for that proposition. See Whitley Products, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 704 N.E.2d 1113, 1119 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998) (explaining that conclusory statements do not constitute probative evidence). Furthermore, the Respondent identified no other specific factors to show the Petitioners’ purchase price is not a valid indicator of market value-in-use.

f. While the Board will not apply an absolute rule against a foreclosure/bank sale, it is important to recognize that the circumstances relating to the transaction should be examined in order to determine whether the sale price is a reliable indication of market value or market value-in-use. Substantial evidence that the Petitioners bought the property in a forced sale or a distressed sale certainly could have been significant—if it were presented. But the record contains no such evidence. To the contrary, the record indicates that the subject property was listed with Dzierba Realtors from July 2011 until the Petitioners bought it in February 2012 and before that it was listed with another realtor for approximately one year. This kind of marketing effort appears to be quite reasonable. The Respondent offered no evidence to the contrary and failed to explain how these facts indicate an actual forced sale or distressed sale.

g. Therefore, the Petitioners’ purchase price is substantial evidence and supports the contention the 2011 assessed value should be only $28,000. It is the most credible evidence in the record, regardless of who had the burden of proof.

18. Again, the analysis for 2012 starts with consideration of the burden-shifting statute. The determination for a reduction for the 2011 assessment means that for 2012 the Respondent has the burden to prove the PTABOA’s valuation of $54,500 is correct. Ind.Code § 6-1.1-15-17.2(d). Nevertheless, in this situation the burden-shifting statute does not make any difference to the final outcome for 2012.

19. The evidence from both parties for 2012 was the same as the evidence they submitted for 2011, but the date of purchase (February 3, 2012) is even closer to the required valuation date (March 1, 2013). Based upon the analysis already stated, the Board concludes that the purchase price of $28,000 is the most credible evidence in the record and is enough to prove an accurate assessed value for 2012.