Thursday, July 3, 2014

Board Finds Taxpayer's Sales Comparable Analysis Failed to Support Reduction in Property's Value

Excerpts of the Board's Determination follow:

23. Mr. Rubin relied solely on data from the sales of ten other properties. A property’s value may be estimated directly by comparing it with similar properties that have sold in the market. Indeed, that is what the sales comparison approach—one of the three generally accepted appraisal approaches—does. But to use that approach in an assessment appeal, one must show that the sold properties are comparable to the property under appeal. Conclusory statements that a property is “similar” or “comparable” to another property do not suffice. Long v. Wayne Township Assessor, 821 N.E.2d 466, 470 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2005). Instead, one must identify the characteristics of the property under appeal and explain both how those characteristics compare to the characteristics of the purportedly comparable properties and how any relevant differences affect the relative market values-in-use.  See id at 471.

24. Mr. Rubin’s spreadsheet shows the following information for each of his ten purportedly comparable properties: the property’s address; the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and total rooms; the total area; and the sale price both in absolute terms and per square foot. Although the spreadsheet data might allow a comparison of Mr. Rubin’s purportedly comparable properties to the subject property in terms of at least some characteristics that likely affect value, he did not walk the Board through that comparison. See Indianapolis Racquet Club, Inc. v. Washington Twp. Assessor, 802 N.E.2d 1018, 1022 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2004) (“[I]t is the taxpayer's duty to walk the Indiana Board . . . through every element of the analysis”). And he offered no data regarding various other relevant characteristics, such as the relative ages of the houses.

25. More importantly, Mr. Rubin did not attempt to explain how relevant differences between the purportedly comparable properties and the subject property affected their market values-in-use. He simply took the average sale price and applied it to the subject property. Because Mr. Rubin did not show that his valuation analysis complied with generally accepted appraisal principles, his sales data lacks probative value.

26. Mr. Rubin, however, did show that Lot 48 has only 45 feet of frontage rather than 50 feet. The Board therefore orders the Assessor to change her records to reflect the correct dimensions.