State Tax Commission of Missouri
JOSEPH H. & KATHERINE M. WHITE,)
v.) Appeal Number 07-11579
PHILIP MUEHLHEAUSLER, ASSESSOR,)
ST. LOUIS COUNTY,MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization reducing the assessment made by the Assessor is SET ASIDE.Hearing Officer finds presumption of correct assessment rebutted. True value in money for the subject property for tax years 2007 and 2008 is set at $735,000, residential assessed value of $139,650.
Complainant, Joseph White, 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; and whether the property under appeal was assessed at a ratio greater than 19% of true value in money, or at a ratio greater than the 2007 average residential assessment ratio forSt. LouisCounty.
Complainants appeal, on the ground of overvaluation and discrimination, the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization, which reduced the valuation of the subject property.The Assessor determined an appraised value of $785,900, assessed value of $149,320, as residential property.The Board reduced the value to $750,000, assessed value of $142,500.Complainants proposed a value of $650,000, assessed value of $123,500, in their Complaint for Review of Assessment.A hearing was conducted on June 17, 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.
Joseph White testified on behalf of the Complainants.He gave the owner’s opinion of value to be $590,000 to $650,000.Exhibit A was received into evidence.Exhibit A consisted of a listing of five properties showing a comparison to the property under appeal for factors of lot size, year built, rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and living area.Mr. White also testified as to erosion along the creek which runs along side the subject lot.The Complainants’ claim of discrimination was based on Mr. White not getting to talk to the Board of Equalization and being told that the Board always takes the recommendation of the appraiser.No market data was presented to support a value of $590,000 or $650,000.
Respondent placed into evidence the testimony of Mr. Robert S. Koch, Missouri State Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser.The appraiser testified as to his appraisal of the subject property.The Appraisal Report (Exhibit 1) of Mr. Koch was received into evidence.Mr. Koch arrived at an opinion of value for the subject property of $735,000 based upon a sales comparison approach to value.In performing his sales comparison analysis, the appraiser relied upon the sales of five properties he deemed comparable to the subject property.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1.Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper.Complainants 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 27 Picardy Lane, Ladue, Missouri.The property is identified by parcel number 19M610263.The property consists of .83 of an acre (36,155 square feet) lot improved by a one and a half-story stone, single-family structure of good quality construction.The house was built in 1927 and appears to be in average to good condition.The residence has a total of eight rooms, which includes three bedrooms, two and a halfbaths, and contains 3,062 square feet of living area.There is an unfinished basement under approximately 85% of the house and an attached two-car rear entry garage. 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 $590,000 or $650,000.
5.The properties relied upon by Respondent’s appraiser were comparable to the subject property for the purpose of the appraisal problem. The properties were located within less than 1.65 miles of the subject.Each sale property sold at a time relevant to the tax date of January 1, 2007, in a range from March 2004 to September 2006.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.
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 ranged from 2.1% to 9.8% of sale price.The adjusted sales prices for the comparables calculated to $726,900, $733,800, $756,600, $731,695 and $740,100, respectively.The appraiser concluded on a value of $735,000, which calculated to a value per square foot of $240.04 compared with the sales prices per square foot of living area for the comparables which ranged from $198.21 to $242.95.
7.Respondent’s evidence met the standard of substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment and establish the value of the subject, as of January 1, 2007, to be $735,000.
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.
Presumption In Appeals
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the CountyBoardof Equalization.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, or respondent when advocating a value different than that determined by the Board, presents substantial and persuasive evidence to establish that the assessor’s or Board’s valuation is erroneous and what the fair market value should have been placed on the property.Hermel, supra; Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).The evidence presented by Complainants failed to rebut the presumption of correct assessment.Respondent’s appraisal constituted substantial and persuasive evidence to both rebut the presumption of correct assessment and to establish the fair market value (true value in money) of the subject property as of January 1, 2007 to be $735,000.
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). Complainants did not present an opinion of value derived from any accepted approach to appraising property.Respondent presented a proposed fair market value based on the sales comparison approach.When valuing owner occupied homes, the sales comparison approach usually will provide the strongest indicator of value.It demonstrates the actions of buyers and sellers in the market.When there is sufficient market data, as there was in this instance, reliance on the sales comparison methodology will provide a proper foundation for determining the indicated value.
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.Hermel, Inc. v. State Tax Commission, 564 S.W.2d 888, at 897. 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.” The taxpayer must prove the fair market value asserted. 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).
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).
The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value.Rigali v. Kensington Place Homeowners’ Ass’n, 103 S.W.3d 839, 846 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); 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.Cohen v. Bushmeyer, — S.W.3d —-, 2008 WL 820938 (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).
The opinions of value proffered by Mr. White ($590,000/$650,000) were not supported by any market data, therefore, there was not a proper foundation for the opinions stated.No probative weight can be given to the owner’s opinion in a case such as this.
Complainants Fail To Prove Discrimination
An apparent miscommunication as to Mr. White being able to talk to the Board does not constitute discrimination.To establish discrimination the taxpayer must show an intentional plan of discrimination by the assessing officials resulting in an assessment of that property at a greater percentage of value than other property, generally, within the same class within the same taxing jurisdiction.Koplar v. State Tax Commission, 321 S.W.2d 686, 690 (Mo. 1959).There is no evidence on this record to support a finding that the Assessor or the Board intentionally assessed the subject property at a greater percentage of value than other residential property inSt. LouisCounty.
Respondent Meets Burden of Proof
Respondent, when advocating a value different from that determined by the original valuation or a valuation made by the Board of Equalization, must meet the same burden of proof to present substantial and persuasive evidence of the value advocated as required of the Complainant under the principles established by case law.Hermel, Cupples-Hesse, Brooks, supra.The appraisal report of Mr. Koch met the required standard.It constituted substantial and persuasive evidence to establish fair market value.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Board of Equalization forSt. LouisCountyfor the subject tax day is SET ASIDE.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2007 and 2008 is set at $139,650.
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.Said application 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 application must be sent to each person at the address listed below in the certificate of service.
Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the appeal is based will result in summary denial.Section 138.432, RSMo 2000.
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 a filing of an Application for Review, unless said taxes have been disbursed pursuant to a court order under the provisions of 139.031.8 RSMo.If no Application for Review is filed, the Collector is ordered to disburse the disputed taxes in accordance with the assessment set by this Decision and Order.
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 July 8, 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 8thday of July, 2008, to:Joseph White, 27 Picardy Lane, St. Louis, MO 63124, Complainant; Paula Lemerman, Associate County Counselor, Attorney for Respondent; Philip A. Muehlheausler, Assessor; John Friganza, Collector, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105.