State Tax Commission of Missouri
JAMES & SYLVIA GLEESON,)
v.) Appeal No.08-32579
SCOTT SHIPMAN, ASSESSOR,)
ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the St. Charles County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED.Complainants did not rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board. True value in money for the subject property for tax year 2008 is set at $273,530, residential assessed value of $51,970.Complainant, Sylvia Gleeson, appeared pro se.
Respondent appeared by Assistant County Counselor, Charissa Mayes.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.
Complainants appeal, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the St. Charles County Board of Equalization, which sustained the valuation of the subject property.The Assessor determined an appraised value of $273,530, assessed value of $51,970, as residential property.Complainants proposed a value of $ 249,900, assessed value of $47,480 in their Complaint for Review of Assessment.A hearing was conducted on December 2, 2008, at the St. Charles County Administration Building, St. Charles, Missouri.
The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
Ms. Gleeson testified in her own behalf.She gave her opinion of fair market value as of January 1, 2007, to be $249,900 to $259,900, although she testified she would not sell the property for that amount.This opinion of value was based on information she had received from realtors in 2008.
Respondent placed into evidence the testimony of Mr. Steven Riney, appraiser for St. Charles County.The appraiser testified as to his appraisal of the subject property.The Appraisal Report, Exhibit 1, of Mr. Riney was received into evidence.Mr. Riney arrived at an opinion of value for the subject property of $280,000 based upon a sales comparison approach to value.In performing his sales comparison analysis, the appraiser relied upon the sales of five properties deemed 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. Charles County Board of Equalization.
2.The subject property is located at 2717 Stonewall Station, St. Charles, Missouri.The property is identified by map parcel number 3-0118-5093-00-7, assessor’s account number 428200A006.The property consists of .29 of an acre lot improved by a two-story brick, single-family structure of good quality construction.The house was built in 1976 and appears to be in fair condition.The residence has a total of seven rooms, four bedrooms, two and a half baths, and contains 2,475 square feet of living area.There is an unfinished basement and an attached two-car garage.
3.Complainants listed their home for sale in the spring of 2006 for $314,000.It was listed with a realtor.It was reduced to $305,000 before it was removed from the market.No offers were made while it was listed for sales.The property was listed in the spring of 2007 at $289,900 with a realtor, reduced to $279,900.No offers were received.Complainants offered the property for sale in the summer of 2008 for $268,900.However, no signs were posted and no adds were taken out to advertise that the property was for sale.
4.There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2007, to January 1, 2008.
5.Complainants’ 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 $, as proposed.
6.The properties relied upon by Respondent’s appraiser were comparable to the subject property for the purpose of making a determination of value of the subject property. The five properties were located within a mile of the subject.Each sale property sold at a time relevant to the tax date of January 1, 2007.The sale properties were similar to the subject in style, quality of construction, age, condition, room, bedroom and bathroom count, living area, location, site size and other amenities of comparability.
7.The appraiser properly adjusted for differences existing between the subject and each comparable, to bring the comparables in line with the subject for purposes of the appraisal problem.The adjusted sales prices established the following range of values: $270,000, $307,030, $275,624, $271,500 and $298,610.A conclusion of $280,000 was proper based on these indicated values.
8.Respondent’s evidence met the standard of substantial and persuasive to establish the value of the subject, as of January 1, 2007, to be $280,000.However, Respondent’s appraisal 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.Respondent met the standard of clear, convincing and cogent evidence in this appeal to sustain the original valuation of $273,530.
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.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.
Presumption In Appeals
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the CountyBoardof Equalization.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.An opinion of value based upon general realtor information does not meet the standard necessary 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.It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date.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.
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.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. Mrs. Gleeson’s methodology to arrive at her opinion of value was reliance on information and statements from realtors.Such information does not constitute a proper method for the valuation of real property for ad valorem tax purposes.Respondent’s appraiser presented both a cost and sales comparison approach to arrive at an indicated value for the property under appeal.Both of these methodologies are appropriate to establish value in an appeal before the Commission.
Complainants’ Burden of Proof
In order to prevail, Complainants 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.There is no presumption that the taxpayer’s opinion is correct. The taxpayer in a Commission appeal still bears the burden of proof.The taxpayer is the moving party seeking affirmative relief.Therefore, the Complainant bears the burden of proving the vital elements of the case, i.e., the assessment was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.”
Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.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.
Owner’s Opinion of Value
The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value.The owner’s opinion is without probative value however, where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.The testimony of Mrs. Gleeson in support of her opinion of value did not establish the proper elements or a proper foundation establishing the fair market value of the subject property for January 1, 2007.Therefore, no probative weight can be given to the opinion of value.Opinions derived from discussions with a realtor or from general sales data from realtors are not grounded in any methodology recognized by the Commission or the courts.
The listing history on the property is not persuasive.Even the reduced listing prices in both 2006 and 2007 give support to the value placed on the property by the Assessor and sustained by the Board.The offering of the property in 2008 did not constitute a sufficient exposure to the market to test the value of the property.In general listings of properties with realtors can be given some persuasive weight.However, the listings relevant to January 1, 2007 fail to establish a market value of only $249,900 or $259,900.
Respondent’s Burden of Proof
The Respondent has imposed upon him by the provisions of Section 137.115.1, RSMo, the burden of proof to present clear, convincing and cogent evidence to sustain a valuation on residential property which is made by a computer, computer-assisted method or a computer program.There is a presumption in this appeal that the original valuation, which was sustained by the Board of Equalization, was made by a computer, computer-assisted method or a computer program.There was no evidence to rebut the presumption, therefore, in order to sustain the valuation of the subject property at $273,530, appraised value, Respondent’s evidence must come within the guidelines established by the legislature and must clearly and convincingly persuade the Hearing Officer as to the value sought to be sustained.
The statutory guidelines for evidence to meet the standard of clear, convincing and cogent include the following:
(1)The findings of the assessor based on an appraisal of the property by generally accepted appraisal techniques; and
(2) The purchase prices from sales of at least three comparable properties and the address or location thereof.As used in this paragraph, the word comparable means that:
(a)Such sale was closed at a date relevant to the property valuation; and
(b) Such properties are not more than one mile from the site of the disputed property, except where no similar properties exist within one mile of the disputed property, the nearest comparable property shall be used.Such property shall be within five hundred square feet in size of the disputed property, and resemble the disputed property in age, floor plan, number of rooms, and other relevant characteristics.
Clear, cogent and convincing evidence is that evidence which clearly convinces the trier of fact of the affirmative proposition to be proved.It does not mean that there may not be contrary evidence.The quality of proof, to be clear and convincing must be more than a mere preponderance but does not require beyond a reasonable doubt.“For evidence to be clear and convincing, it must instantly tilt the scales in the affirmative when weighed against the evidence in opposition and the fact finder’s mind is left with an abiding conviction that the evidence is true.”
The appraisal report of Mr. Riney conformed to the statutory guidelines to meet the standard of clear, cogent and convincing evidence to affirm the value of $273,530.
Evidence of Increase in Value
In any case in St. Charles 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.Mr. Riney’s appraisal report provided substantial and persuasive evidence to establish the value of $280,000.However, that evidence is only received for sustaining the value set by the Assessor and sustained by the Board and not for increasing the valuation of Complainants’ property.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board of Equalization for St. Charles County for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax year 2008 is set at $51,970.
Complainants may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty days of the mailing date of the Certificate of Service of this decision.The application shall contain specific grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.Said application must be mailed to the State Tax Commission of Missouri, P.O. Box 146, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146, and a copy of said application must be sent to each person at the address listed below in the certificate of service.
The Collector of St. Charles County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall continue to hold the disputed taxes pending a 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 23, 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 23rdday of December, 2008, to:Sylvia Gleeson, 2717 Stonewall Station, St. Charles, MO 63303-6137, Complainant; Charissa Mayes, Assistant County Counselor, 100 North Third Street, Room 216, St. Charles, MO 63301, Attorney for Respondent; Scott Shipman, Assessor, 201 North Second, Room 247, St. Charles, MO 63301-2870; Amy Gann, Registrar, 100 North Third Street, Suite 206, St. Charles, MO 63301; Michelle McBride, Collector, 201 North Second Street, Room 134, St. Charles, MO 63301.
 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).
 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.
 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).
 See, 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).Industrial Development Authority of Kansas City v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 804 S.W.2d 387, 392 (Mo. App. 1991).
 Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, (Mo. App. E.D., March 25, 2008); Carmel Energy, Inc. v. Fritter, 827 S.W.2d 780, 783 (Mo. App. W.D. 1992); State, ex rel. Missouri Hwy & Transp. Com’n v. Pracht, 801 S.W.2d 90, 94 (Mo. App. E.D. 1990); Shelby County R-4 School District v. Hermann, 392 S.W.2d 609, 613 (Sup. 1965).