STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|Complainant,||)||Appeal No. 19-10776|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,||)|
|ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
John Schroeter (Complainant) appeals the St. Louis County Board of Equalization’s (BOE) decision finding the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $116,400, with an assessed value of $22,120. Complainant claims the property is overvalued and proposes a value of $97,800 or $99,000. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation. The BOE’s decision is affirmed.
Complainant proceeded pro se. Respondent was represented by counsel Monique McNutt. Complainant’s request to waive an oral evidentiary hearing and have the appeal decided upon exhibits and other evidence was consented to by Respondent and granted.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Subject Property. The subject property is located at 5896 Hawkins Fuchs Rd. in Saint Louis, Missouri. The parcel/locator number is 31K110095.
The subject property consists of a 43,560 square foot lot and a 1,176 square foot single family home. (Ex. 2 at 3) The ranch home was built in 1964 and has three bedrooms and one bath. (Ex. A at 3)
- Respondent and BOE. Respondent classified the subject property as residential and determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $151,800. The BOE classified the subject property as residential and independently determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $116,400.
- Complainant’s Evidence. In the Letter, Complainant asserted the TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $99,000. Complainant submitted the Letter and Exhibit A, a twenty-seven page appraisal of the subject property by Thomas R. Noonan, Noonan Appraisers, stating a $99,000 opinion of value of the subject property as of April 13, 2016.
In the Letter, Complainant stated that the subject property was built in 1964 and had a single-car garage, gravel driveway, unfinished basement, and one bathroom. He further indicated that the “house is on septic – no sewer available” and is “not in bad shape” but “outdated” and in need of new carpets, kitchen cabinets, windows, doors, and interior paint.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent submitted the Written Direct Testimony of Residential Appraiser Adam Luesse; Exhibit 1, the October 4, 2019, Findings and Notice of Decision of the BOE, determining the appraised value of the subject property to be $116,400; and Exhibit 2, the May 8, 2020, Restricted Appraisal Report of Mr. Luesse, determining the value of the subject property to be $135,000 as of January 1, 2019.
Exhibit 2 utilizes the sales comparison approach to estimate the market value of the subject property from recent sales of three comparable properties that were selected from 14 one-story properties within one mile of the subject property that sold between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2018. (Ex. 2 at 3, 6)
The key property data in Exhibit 2 are as follows:
|Subject Property||4360 Butler Hill||4479 Brooktop||4455 Brooktop|
|Style||1 story ranch||1 story||1 story||1 story|
|Sale price||$ 129,900||$ 135,000||$ 153,000|
|Lot size (sq. ft.)||43,560||12,371||7928||9235|
The comparable properties are similar to the subject property because they had dated interiors and needed repairs and/or updates. (Ex. 2 at 3) The three comparable properties differ from the subject property with respect to lot size. The subject property is “on a larger than typical homesite of 1 acre.” (Ex. 2 at 3) For the three comparable properties, the median sales price is $135,000, and the average sales price is $136,000.
- Value. The TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $116,400, with an assessed value of $22,120.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- Assessment and Valuation. Residential real property is assessed at 19% of its TVM as of January 1 of each odd-numbered year. Section 137.115.5(1)(a). “True value in money is the fair market value of the property on the valuation date, and is a function of its highest and best use, which is the use of the property which will produce the greatest return in the reasonably near future.” Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Mo. Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d 341, 346 (Mo. banc 2005) (internal quotation omitted). 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 TVM is a factual issue for the STC. Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 348 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008). The “proper methods of valuation and assessment of property are delegated to the Commission.” Savage v. State Tax Comm’n, 722 S.W.2d 72, 75 (Mo. banc 1986).
“For purposes of levying property taxes, the value of real property is typically determined using one or more of three generally accepted approaches.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 346. The three generally accepted approaches are the cost approach, the income approach, and the comparable sales approach. Id. at 346-48; see also St. Louis Cty. v. Sec. Bonhomme, Inc., 558 S.W.2d 655, 659 (Mo. banc 1977).
The comparable sales approach “is most appropriate when there is an active market for the type of property at issue such that sufficient data are available to make a comparative analysis.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 348. “The comparable sales approach uses prices paid for similar properties in arms-length transactions and adjusts those prices to account for differences between the properties.” Id. at 347-48 (internal quotation omitted). “Comparable sales consist of evidence of sales reasonably related in time and distance and involve land comparable in character.” Id. at 348.
- Evidence. The hearing officer is the finder of fact and determines the credibility and weight of the evidence. Kelly v. Mo. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., Family Support Div., 456 S.W.3d 107, 111 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015). The finder of fact in an administrative hearing determines the credibility and weight of expert testimony. Hornbeck v. Spectra Painting, Inc., 370 S.W.3d 624, 632 (Mo. banc 2012). The hearing officer “may inquire of the owner of the property or of any other party to the appeal regarding any matter or issue relevant to the valuation, subclassification or assessment of the property.” Section 138.430.2.
- Complainant’s Burden of Proof. The taxpayer bears the burden of proof and must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was overvalued or misclassified. Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003). The BOE’s valuation is presumptively correct. Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 7 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020). The “taxpayer may rebut this presumption by presenting substantial and persuasive evidence that the valuation is erroneous” and must prove “the value that should have been placed on the property.” Id. “Substantial evidence is that evidence which, if true, has probative force upon the issues, and from which the trier of fact can reasonably decide the case on the fact issues.” Savage, 722 S.W.2d at 77 (internal quotation omitted). Evidence is persuasive when it has “sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact.” Daly v. P.D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 651 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002); see also White v. Dir. of Revenue, 321 S.W.3d 298, 305 (Mo. banc 2010) (noting the burden of persuasion is the “party’s duty to convince the fact-finder to view the facts in a way that favors that party”).
- Complainant Did Not Prove Overvaluation. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence to support his $99,000 opinion of value. While Exhibit A shows that Mr. Noonan’s opinion of value as to the subject property was $99,000 as of April 13, 2016, Exhibit A does not address the value of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, over two years after the effective date of Mr. Noonan’s appraisal. While the Letter discusses that the house is in need of updates, Complainant does not offer evidence to show that the needed updates lower the TVM of the subject property to Complainant’s proposed value. Complainant did not offer substantial and persuasive evidence to show that the subject property was overvalued and to show that the correct valuation of the subject property was $99,000 as of January 1, 2019.
Although Respondent was not required to produce evidence, Respondent’s Exhibit 2 supports the BOE’s $116,400 valuation of the subject property. Based on the sales comparison approach, Mr. Luesse’s opinion of market value of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $135,000. (Ex. 2 at 2) In making this determination, Mr. Luesse considered the fact that the subject property is in need of updates because he utilized comparable properties that “have dated interiors and need some repairs/updates.” (Ex. 2 at 3)
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The BOE decision is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $116,400, with an assessed value of $22,120.
Application for Review
A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within 30 days of the mailing date set forth in the certificate of service for this decision. The application “shall contain specific detailed grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.” Section 138.432. The application must be in writing, and may be mailed to the State Tax Commission, P.O. Box 146, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146, or emailed to Legal@stc.mo.gov. A copy of the application must be sent to each person listed below in the certificate of service.
The Collector of St. Louis 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.
SO ORDERED February 26, 2021.
Laura A. Storck-Elam
Senior Hearing Officer
State Tax Commission
Certificate of Service
I certify that on February 26, 2021, a copy of the foregoing was sent via email to
Complainant(s) and/or Counsel for Complainant(s), the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.
 In the Complaint for Review of Assessment, Complainant’s proposed value was $97,800. However, in a letter submitted by Complainant discussing the subject property (Letter), Complainant revised his proposed value to $99,000.
 Complainant timely filed a Complaint for Review of Assessment. The State Tax Commission (STC) has authority to hear and decide Complainant’s appeal. Mo. Const. art. X, Section 14; section 138.430.1, RSMo 2000. All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.
 For ease of reference, the appraisal submitted by Complainant has been labeled Exhibit A.
 Although the name of this document, “Respondent’s Written Direct Testimony 19-10776 John Schroeter,” indicates that the document pertains to appeal number 19-10776, the document pertains to 5912 Hawkins Fuchs Rd., the property that is the subject of appeal number 19-10775. Because such document does not discuss the subject property, it was not considered.