STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|TIMOTHY HAWLEY||)||Appeal No. 19-33000|
|RICK KESSINGER, ASSESSOR,||))|
|GREENE COUNTY, MISSOURI||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Timothy Hawley (Complainant) appeals the Greene County Board of Equalization’s (BOE) decision finding the fair market value of the subject property on January 1, 2019 was $345,000. Complainant claims the property was overvalued.
The hearing officer conducted an evidentiary hearing. Complainant did not present substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation. The BOE’s decision is affirmed.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- The Subject Property
- The subject residential property is located at 4182 E. Wilshire Street in Springfield, Missouri. The parcel number is 1234400291.
- The subject property consists of an approximately 18,338 square foot lot, a 3,171 square foot house, and a 3-car attached garage.
- The house was constructed in either 2002 or 2003. The external walls are brick. The house is a ranch style house with seven rooms. There are three bedrooms, one full bathroom and one half bathroom. There are two fireplaces. One of the other rooms also is used as a bedroom at times. The house is of average condition.
- Respondent determined the fair market value of the subject property was $365,700.
- The BOE Decision
- The BOE reduced the property from $365,700 to $345,000.
- Complainant’s Appeal
- Complainant timely appealed the BOE decision to the State Tax Commission (Commission).
- Complainant alleged the subject property was overvalued.
- Overvaluation Claim
- Complainant testified he is a real estate agent and that he believes the sale price of the property would be $318,709, based upon on 99% average sale to list price ratio.
- Complainant submitted exhibits A-E. Respondent objected to all of Complainant’s exhibits because Complainant is not an appraiser. Each exhibit was admitted into evidence to be given such weight, if any, the Hearing Officer deemed appropriate. Complainant’s exhibits were as follows:
|Exhibit A||Greene County Assessor Valuation|
|Exhibit B||MLS Date Sheet- 4008 Wilshire Street|
|Exhibit C||MLS Date Sheet- 4223 Edgewood Street|
|Exhibit D||MLS Date Sheet- 4128 E. Gastonbury Street|
|Exhibit E||Comparative Market Analysis|
- Complainant’s exhibit A shows information about the three comparable properties and the subject property utilized by Respondent.
- Complainant’s exhibit B, C, and D consist of MLS data sheets on the three comparable properties utilized by Respondent.
- Complainant’s proposed value is based on his comparative market analysis. See Ex. E. Complainant acknowledged he is not an appraiser and that he is not attempting to offer an appraisal.
- Complainant testified he selected seven sales of similar properties from the MLS database. His selection criteria was: within a 1.50 mile radius, sale closed, total bedrooms between 3 and 5, total bathrooms between 2 and 4, a zip code of 65809, approximate year built between 1990 and 2010, sold date between 1/1/2018 and 10/30/2029, or an exterior material of brick, or garage/parking of 3+ car attached garage, or based type of “no.” Exhibit E shows Complainant determined an average sale price per square foot of the seven sales of $101.36 and an average sale to list price of 0.99. The sales prices of the seven comparable properties selected were from $250,000 to $298,000. Four of the sales were on the market for less than one week. Complainant made adjustments for above grade square footage, total bedrooms, full bathrooms, and half bathrooms. Complainant’s adjusted sales prices ranged from $292,565 to $354,863. Complainant opined a listing price recommendation range between $312,270 and $331,586. His recommended list price was $321,928. His opined sale price, based upon his 99% average sale to list ratio was $318,709. Complainant did not list or testify as to the effective date of his comparative market analysis.
- Respondent submitted Exhibits 1-14. Each exhibit was admitted into evidence without objection. Respondent’s exhibits were as follows:
|Exhibit 1||Appraisal Report of Kelli Featherstone|
|Exhibit 2||Parson v. Zimmerman, 1996 WL 327475 (Mo.St.Tax.Com.)|
|Exhibit 3||Eldridge v. Davis, 2008 WL 643038 (Mo.St.Tax.Com.)|
|Exhibit 4||Shoaf v. Shipman, 2008 WL 2352597 (Mo.St.Tax.Com.)|
|Exhibit 5||Rezny v. Zimmerman, 2014 WL 4436055 (Mo.St.Tax.Com.)|
|Exhibit 6||Steinbach v. Zimmerman, 2014 WL 4655822 (Mo.St.Tax.Com.)|
|Exhibit 7||Dawson v. Hoover, 2012 WL 2372964 (Mo.St.Tax.Com.)|
|Exhibit 8||Walters v. Bushmeyer, 2008 WL 787203 (Mo.St.Tax.Com.)|
|Exhibit 9||Novelly Trust v. Copeland, 2010 WL 1328622 (Mo.St.Tax.Com.)|
|Exhibit 10||Lehmer v. Howard, 2000 WL 132325 (Mo.St.Tax.Com.)|
|Exhibit 11||Scott v. Hoover, 2012 WL 2372987 (Mo.St.Tax.Com.)|
|Exhibit 12||Oster v. Davis, 2008 WL 643048 (Mo.St.Tax.Com.)|
|Exhibit 13||Matteuzzi v. Zimmerman, 2012 WL 5463728 (Mo.St.Tax.Com.)|
|Exhibit 14||Comparative Market Analysis Presented to Board of Equalization|
- Respondent’s exhibit 1 is an appraisal report of Kelli Featherstone (Featherstone), with an effective date of January 1, 2019. Featherstone relied solely upon the sales comparison approach. Featherstone considered six comparable properties, all within .55 miles of the subject property. They sold between 8/15/17 and 8/14/18. The sales price range of the comparable properties was from $294,000 to $412,000. The adjusted sales price range was from $298,400 to $384,940 (with a mean of $341,670). Four of the comparable properties adjusted sales prices were above the BOE value. The subject property is seventeen years old. The comparable properties ranged in age from twelve to twenty-two years. Both the subject property and all of the comparable properties are ranch style homes, of good construction, and average condition. Featherstone made adjustments for room count (including bedrooms and bathrooms), gross living area, fireplaces, pools, finish above garage and attic finish. Featherstone concluded on a true value in money for the subject property of $345,000, as of January 1, 2019.
- The true value in money of the subject property as of January 1, 2019 is $345,000. The assessed value is $65,550.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
The Commission has authority, “under such rules as may be prescribed by law, to hear appeals from local boards in individual cases and, upon such appeal, to correct any assessment which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious.” Mo. Const. art. X, § 14. Section 138.430.1, RSMo 2000, authorizes the Commission to hear appeals concerning assessment, valuation, the method or formula used in determining valuation, or the assignment of a discriminatory assessment. “The commission shall investigate all such appeals and shall correct any assessment or valuation which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” Id. “To hear and decide appeals pursuant to section 138.430, the commission shall appoint one or more hearing officers.” Section 138.431.1. The hearing officer “shall issue a decision and order affirming, modifying, or reversing the determination of the board of equalization, and correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary, or capricious.” Section 138.431.5.
- True Value in Money
All real property and tangible personal property must be assessed at its value or a percentage of its value as fixed by law for each class and for each subclass. Mo. Const. art. X, sec. 4(a), 4(b). Section 137.115.5(1) (a) provides residential property is assessed at 19% of its true value in money. The true value in money “is an estimate of the fair market value on the valuation date.” Hermel, Inc. v. State Tax Comm’n, 564 S.W.2d 888, 897 (Mo. banc 1978). The fair market value is “the price which the property would bring from a willing buyer when offered for sale by a willing seller.” Mo. Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Comm’n, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993). Determining the true value in money is a factual issue. Parker v. Doe Run Co., 553 S.W.3d 356, 360 (Mo. App. 2018).
- Evidentiary Standards
The hearing officer is the trier of fact and determines the credibility and weight of the evidence. Citizens for Rural Pres., Inc. v. Robinett, 648 S.W.2d 117, 132 (Mo. App. 1982); see also Exch. Bank of Mo. v. Gerlt, 367 S.W.3d 132, 136 (Mo. App. 2012) (the trier of fact determines credibility and is free to disbelieve all or part of a party’s evidence). The hearing officer is not bound by any single formula, rule or method in determining true value in money, and “is free to consider all pertinent facts and estimates and give them such weight as reasonably they may be deemed entitled to.” St. Louis Cty. v. State Tax Comm’n, 515 S.W.2d 446, 450 (Mo. 1974); see also Kelly v. Mo. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., Family Support Div., 456 S.W.3d 107, 111 (Mo. App. 2015) (the relative weight of any relevant factor is for the administrative hearing officer to decide). “Although technical rules of evidence are not controlling in administrative hearings, fundamental rules of evidence are applicable.” Mo. Church of Scientology v. State Tax Comm’n, 560 S.W.2d 837, 839 (Mo. banc 1977).
- Complainant’s Burden of Proof
A taxpayer challenging the assessment, valuation, the method or formula used in determining valuation, or the assignment of a discriminatory assessment bears the burden of proving the assessment or valuation was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” Section 138.430.1; Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. 2003).
The BOE’s valuation is presumed correct, but the taxpayer may rebut this presumption with “substantial controverting evidence.” Hermel, Inc. v. State Tax Comm’n, 564 S.W.2d 888, 895 (Mo. banc 1978) (quoting Cupples Hesse Corp. v. State Tax Comm’n, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959)). Substantial evidence is evidence which “has probative force upon the issues . . . and from which the trier of fact can reasonably decide the case on the fact issues.” Cupples Hesse, 329 S.W.2d at 702 (internal quotation omitted).
If the taxpayer produces substantial evidence rebutting the BOE presumption, “the burden of proof on the facts and inferences would still rest on petitioner, for it is the moving party seeking affirmative relief.” Cupples Hesse, 329 S.W.2d at 702. To prevail, the taxpayer must produce “persuasive” evidence sufficient to convince the trier the disputed fact has been established. White v. Dir. of Revenue, 321 S.W.3d 298, 305 (Mo. banc 2010); see also Daly v. P.D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 651 (Mo. App. 2002) (evidence is persuasive when it has “sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact”).
- Comparative Market Analysis
Section 339.501 RSMo., states in pertinent part: 1. Beginning July 1, 1999, it shall be unlawful for any person in this state to act as a real estate appraiser, or to directly or indirectly, engage or assume to engage in the business of real estate appraisal or to advertise or hold himself or herself out as engaging in or conducting such business without first obtaining a license or certificate issued by the Missouri real estate appraisers commission as provided in 339.500 to 339.549.
A real estate agent can qualify as an expert witness. A real estate agent is not an expert for purposes of offering an appraisal. A real estate agent may offer a comparative market analysis.
Section 339.503 (19) defines comparative market analysis as:
The analysis of sales of similar recently sold properties in order to derive an indication of the probable sales price of a particular property undertaken by a licensed real estate broker or agent, for his or her principal. A comparative market analysis is not an appraisal and shall specifically state it is not an appraisal; (emphasis added)
A comparative market analysis is not an appraisal. A comparative market analysis does not contain the safeguards required in an appraisal. A comparative market analysis does not require a paired sales analysis. It also does not require verification of sales prices. It does not require market based adjustments for differences in age, size, quality of construction, condition, room count, bedrooms, bathrooms, and other various features. A comparative market analysis is not a recognized methodology for the appraisal of real property. List price analysis with a list to sales price ratio is not a recognized reliable indicator of true value in money.
Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence rebutting the presumption the BOE correctly determined the true value in money of the subject property. Nevertheless, Complainant’s comparative market analysis supports the BOE value of $345,000.
Additionally, Respondent produced an appraisal of Featherstone determined by the Hearing Officer to be substantial and persuasive evidence supporting the BOE presumption.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The BOE decision is affirmed. The true value in money of the subject property as of January 1, 2019 is $345,000. The assessed value is $65,550.
Application for Review
A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty days of the mailing date set forth in the certificate of service for this decision. The application shall contain specific facts or law as grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous. Said application must be in writing addressed to the State Tax Commission of Missouri, P.O. Box 146, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, and a copy of the application must be sent to each person listed below in the certificate of service.
Failure to state the specific facts or law upon which the application for review is based will result in summary denial. Section 138.432.
The Collector of Greene County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall continue to hold the disputed taxes pending the possible filing of an application for review, unless said taxes have been disbursed pursuant to a court order under the provisions of Section 139.031.8 RSMo.
Any finding of fact which is a conclusion of law or decision shall be so deemed. Any decision which is a finding of fact or conclusion of law shall be so deemed.
SO ORDERED December 9th, 2019.
 Complainant appeared pro se. Respondent appeared in person and through counsel Aaron Klusmeyer.
 All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.
 Section 138.060.1 provides “[t]here shall be no presumption that the assessor’s valuation is correct.” The plain language of the statute negates the former presumption the assessor’s valuation is correct, but leaves intact the longstanding presumption the BOE’s valuation is correct. Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 348 n.2 (Mo. App. 2008); see also Parker, 553 S.W.3d at 360.