State Tax Commission of Missouri
v.) Appeal Number 07-12688
PHILIP MUEHLHEAUSLER, ASSESSOR,)
ST. LOUIS COUNTY,MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED.Hearing Officer finds presumptions of correct assessment not rebutted. True value in money for the subject property for tax years 2007 and 2008 is set at $364,900, residential assessed value of $69,330.
Complainant appeared pro se.
Respondent appeared by Associate County Counselor, Paula J. Lemerman.
Case heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer W. B. Tichenor.
The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2007.
Complainant appeals, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization, which sustained the valuation of the subject property.The Assessor determined an appraised value of $364,900, assessed value of $69,330, as residential property).Complainant proposed a value of $320,000, assessed value of $60,800.A hearing was conducted on May 20, 2008, at theSt. LouisCountyGovernmentCenter,Clayton,Missouri.
The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
Mr. Wilkinson testified in his own behalf.He offered into evidence Exhibit A.Counsel for Respondent objected to the exhibit on the grounds of lack of foundation as to appraisal methodology.Objection was overruled and Exhibit A was received into evidence.The objection went to the weight that could be given the owner’s opinion of value.Exhibit A consisted of information on the subject condominium development, the assessor’s mass valuation of the subject property, and sales prices on three property sales in 2004 and 2006.
The owner testified as to his opinion of fair market value of $318,448, which he had rounded to $320,000.Mr. Wilkinson arrived at his opinion of value by averaging the sales prices of three properties with the lowest sale price per square foot, and applying the resulting average to his property.
Respondent placed into evidence the testimony of Mr. Ross Hackman, appraiser for St. LouisCounty.The appraiser testified as to his appraisal of the subject property.The Appraisal Report (Exhibit 1) of Mr. Hackman was received into evidence.Mr. Hackman arrived at an opinion of value for the subject property of $390,000 based upon a sales comparison approach to value.In performing his sales comparison analysis, the appraiser relied upon the sales of six properties which he deemed to be comparable to the subject property.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1.Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper.Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization.
2.The subject property is located at 6340 Clayton Road, # 104, Richmond Heights, Missouri.The property is identified by parcel number 20J641792.The property consists of a first floor, interior, one-story loft condominium unit.The subject building is a four-story structure containing 27 condominium units. The unit was built in 2001/02 and appears to be in average condition.The residence has a total of five rooms, which includes two bedrooms,two full baths, and contains 1,531 square feet of living area.There is a full common area basement for the building, with a storage area specific to each individual unit and two assigned parking spaces specific to each individual unit. The residence was purchased new in 2002/03 for $361,520 or $236.13 per square foot of living area.Exhibit 1.
3.There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2007, to January 1, 2008.
4.Complainant’s evidence was not substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board and establish the true value in money as of January 1, 2007, to be $320,000.
5.The properties relied upon by Respondent’s appraiser were comparable to the subject property. The sale properties were all located within the subject complex.Two sales were in the subject building and the other four sales were in the neighboring building in the complex.Each sale property sold at a time relevant to the tax date of January 1, 2007, in a range from August, 2004 to April, 2007.The sale properties were similar to the subject in style, quality of construction, age, condition, room, bedroom and bathroom count, living area (ranging from 1,430 to 1,691 square feet of living area), location, site size and other amenities of comparability.
6.The appraiser made various adjustments to the comparable properties for differences which existed between the subject and each comparable.All adjustments were appropriate to bring the comparables in line with the subject for purposes of the appraisal problem.The net adjustments as a percentage of sale price ranged from – 4.9% to -9.5%,
The adjusted sales prices for the comparables ranged from $353,600 to $418,600, with a median of $389,614, and a mean of $388,250.The appraiser concluded on a $390,000 value which calculated to a value per square foot of $254.74 compared with the sales prices per square foot of living area for the comparables ranging from $252.63 to 307.69.
7.Respondent’s appraisal constituted clear and convincing and cogent evidence to affirm the Assessor and Board’s value.It was accepted only to sustain the original assessment made by the Assessor and sustained by the Board and not for the purpose of raising the assessment above that value.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DECISION
The Commission has jurisdiction to hear this appeal and correct any assessment which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious.Article X, section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, RSMo.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 138.431.4, RSMo.
Presumptions In Appeals
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the CountyBoardof Equalization.Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d 341 (Mo. 2005); Hermel, Inc. v. STC, 564 S.W.2d 888, 895 (Mo. banc 1978); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. v. STC, 436 S.W.2d 650, 656 (Mo. 1968); May Department Stores Co. v. STC, 308 S.W.2d 748, 759 (Mo. 1958).The presumption of correct assessment is rebutted when the taxpayer presents substantial and persuasive evidence to establish that the Board’s valuation is erroneous and what the fair market value should have been placed on the property.Snider, Hermel & Cupples Hesse, supra.Complainant’s evidence, as is discussed below, failed to meet the required standard to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board.
Standard for Valuation
Section 137.115, RSMo, requires that property be assessed based upon its true value in money which is defined as the price a property would bring when offered for sale by one willing or desirous to sell and bought by one who is willing or desirous to purchase but who is not compelled to do so.St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Missouri Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Commission, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993).It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date.Hermel, supra.
Market value is the most probable price in terms of money which a property should bring in competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeable and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus.
Implicit in this definition are the consummation of a sale as of a specific date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby:
1.Buyer and seller are typically motivated.
2.Both parties are well informed and well advised, and both acting in what they consider their own best interests.
3.A reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market.
4.Payment is made in cash or its equivalent.
5.Financing, if any, is on terms generally available in the Community at the specified date and typical for the property type in its locale.
6.The price represents a normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special financing amounts and/or terms, services, fees, costs, or credits incurred in the transaction.
Real Estate Appraisal Terminology, Society of Real Estate Appraisers, Revised Edition, 1984; See also, Real Estate Valuation in Litigation, J. D. Eaton, M.A.I., American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers, 1982, pp. 4-5; Property Appraisal and Assessment Administration, International Association of Assessing Officers, 1990, pp. 79-80; Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, Glossary; Exhibit 1.
Methods of Valuation
Proper methods of valuation and assessment of property are delegated to the Commission.It is within the purview of the Hearing Officer to determine the method of valuation to be adopted in a given case.See, Nance v. STC, 18 S.W.3d 611, at 615 (Mo. App. W.D. 2000); Hermel, supra;Xerox Corp. v. STC, 529 S.W.2d 413 (Mo. banc 1975).Missouri courts have approved the comparable sales or market approach, the cost approach and the income approach as recognized methods of arriving at fair market value. St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. STC, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (App. E.D. 1993); Aspenhof Corp. v. STC, 789 S.W.2d 867, 869 (App. E.D. 1990); Quincy Soybean Company, Inc., v. Lowe, 773 S.W.2d 503, 504 (App. E.D. 1989), citing Del-Mar Redevelopment Corp v. Associated Garages, Inc., 726 S.W.2d 866, 869 (App. E.D. 1987); and State ex rel. State Highway Comm’n v. Southern Dev. Co., 509 S.W.2d 18, 27 (Mo. Div. 2 1974).The method for valuation of the property tendered by Complainant was not an approach to value which is recognized by the Courts or the Commission for the determination of fair market value for ad valorem tax purposes.Averaging of sale prices of properties to arrive at an average per square foot sale price does not qualify as a proper method of valuation.
Complainant’s Burden of Proof
In order to prevail, Complainant must present an opinion of market value and substantial and persuasive evidence that the proposed value is indicative of the market value of the subject property on January 1, 2007.Hermel, Inc. v. State Tax Commission, 564 S.W.2d 888, at 897.Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.See, Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).Persuasive evidence is that evidence which has sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact.The persuasiveness of evidence does not depend on the quantity or amount thereof but on its effect in inducing belief.Brooks v. General Motors Assembly Division, 527 S.W.2d 50, 53 (Mo. App. 1975).See also, Westwood Partnership v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); Daly v. P. D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002); Reeves v. Snider, 115 S.W.3d 375 (Mo. App. S.D. 2003).
The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value. Boten v. Brecklein, 452 S.W.2d 86, 95 (Sup. 1970).The owner’s opinion is without probative value however, where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.Shelby County R-4 School District v. Hermann, 392 S.W.2d 609, 613 (Sup. 1965).The owner may not support an opinion of value by reference to comparable sales unless the owner qualifies as an expert.State ex rel. Missouri Hwy. and Tr. Comm’n v. McDonald’s Corp., 872 S.W.2d 108, 113 (Mo. App. E.D. 1994); State ex rel. Missouri Hwy. and Tr. Comm’n v. Pracht, 801 S.W.2d 90, 94 (Mo. App. E.D. 1990).
Mr. Wilkinson arrived at his opinion of value by adding the sale prices and square footage for three sale properties.He then divided the total sales price by the total square footage to arrive at a cost per square foot of living area.Finally, he multiplied the cost per square foot of living area he had calculated times the subject’s square footage.This produced the value proposed as the owner’s opinion.
The Wilkinson methodology is shown to be fatally flawed by the simple exercise of averaging the per square foot sales prices of the six comparables utilized by Mr. Hackman.When that is done the average per square foot sale price is $274.48 which produces an indicated value for the subject of $420,228.The owner’s opinion is grounded in an unacceptable and flawed methodology.It does not rest upon proper elements or a proper foundation and therefore can be given no probative weight.
Complainant failed to meet his burden of proof to rebut the presumption of correct assessment and establish value.The Board’s value must be affirmed.
Evidence of Increase in Value
In any case in St. Louis County where the assessor presents evidence which indicates a valuation higher than the value finally determined by the assessor or the value determined by the board of equalization, whichever is higher, for that assessment period, such evidence will only be received for the purpose of sustaining the assessor’s or board’s valuation, and not for increasing the valuation of the property under appeal.Section 138.060, RSMo; 12 CSR 30-3.075.Therefore, Exhibit 1 was not received as a basis for increasing the value above that determined by the assessor and sustained by the Board.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board of Equalization forSt. LouisCountyfor the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2007 and 2008 is set at $69,330.
Complainant may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty (30) days of the mailing of such decision.The application shall contain specific grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the appeal is based will result in summary denial.Section 138.432, RSMo 2000. An Application for Review must be in writing addressed to the State Tax Commission of Missouri,P.O. Box 146,Jefferson City,MO65102-0146, and a copy of said response must be sent to the Attorney for Respondent, Assessor and Collector at the addresses listed below in the certificate of service.
If an application for review of this decision is made to the Commission, the protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accordance with this appeal shall be held pending the final decision of the Commission and an order to the Collector to release and disburse the impounded taxes.§139.031.3 RSMo.If no application for review is received by the Commission within thirty (30) days, this decision and order is deemed final and the Collector of St. Louis County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall disburse the protested taxes to the appropriate taxing jurisdictions, unless previously done under court order pursuant to section 139.031 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 June 5, 2008.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OFMISSOURI
W. B. Tichenor
Senior Hearing Officer
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed postage prepaid on this 5thday of June, 2008, to:Edmund Wilkinson, 63409 Clayton Road 104, St. Louis, MO 63117, Complainant; Paula Lemerman, Associate County Counselor, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105, Attorney for Respondent; Philip A. Muehlheausler, Assessor, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105; John Friganza, Collector, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105.