STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|Complainant,||)||Appeal No. 19-20395|
|v.||)||Parcel No. 1454-00-00200|
|MICHAEL DAUPHIN, ASSESSOR,||)|
|CITY OF ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Karen Cruse (Complainant) appeals the determination made by Michael Dauphin, Assessor, City of St. Louis, Missouri, finding the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $73,900, with an assessed value of $14,040. Complainant claims the property is overvalued and proposes a value of $46,000 to $47,000. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation. Respondent’s determination is affirmed.
The evidentiary hearing was held on August 13, 2020, at St. Louis City Hall in the City of St. Louis, Missouri. Complainant appeared pro se. Respondent was represented by counsel Chelsea Mannery.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Subject Property. The subject property is located at 2948 Michigan Ave. in St. Louis, Missouri. The parcel/locator number is 1454-00-00200.
The subject property consists of an approximately 25 feet by 125 feet lot and a 2,014 square foot single family home that previously was a two-family flat. The two-story brick home has six rooms, three bedrooms, one and one-half bathrooms, and a full basement.
- Respondent and BOE. Respondent classified the subject property as residential and determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $73,900. Complainant indicated that she did not appeal to the BOE because she was not notified of the increase in valuation until her tax bill was received on November 12, 2019.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant testified that she believes $46,000 or $47,000 is the TVM of the subject property. Complainant submitted the following exhibits:
|A||Two-page printout for home located at 4327 California, St. Louis, Missouri 63111 listed for sale for $29,500 on www.point2homes.com.||Admitted|
|B||Four-page printout for home located at 4138 Oregon Ave. St. Louis Missouri 63118 listed for sale for $59,000 on ColdwellBankerHomes.com.||Admitted|
|C||One-page printout for three homes listed for sale on www.point2homes.com: 3624 Virginia Avenue listed for $24,900; 4327 California listed for $29,500; and 540 Bates Street listed for $59,900.||Admitted|
|D||Four-page document from Price Real Estate Investments Inc. that includes letter dated March 3, 2020, and offers to purchase the subject property for $40,000.||Admitted|
|E||Two-page document from Price Real Estate Investments that includes letter dated March 10, 2020, with offer to purchase the subject property for $45,000.||Admitted|
|F||Two-page property detail for the subject property that indicates a total market value of $73,894 for the 2019 assessment year.||Admitted|
|G||One-page handwritten document indicating addresses, prices, and square footage for six properties.||Admitted|
|H||One-page handwritten document indicating sale price, sale date, and square footage for five properties.||Admitted|
|I||Four-page printout for home located at 540 Bates Street, St. Louis, Missouri 63111 listed for sale for $59,900 on www.point2homes.com.||Admitted|
|J||Two-page printout for home located at 3624 Virginia Avenue, St. Louis Missouri 63118 listed for sale for $24,900 on www.point2homes.com.||Admitted|
Respondent’s counsel objected to Exhibits A through J. The objections were overruled, and the exhibits were admitted to be given the weight deemed appropriate.
Complainant testified that she believes the TVM of the subject property was $46,000 to $47,000, and that the subject home was previously a two-family flat and has two front doors. Complainant indicated that the subject property is in need of many repairs, including plumbing repairs, gutter repairs, replacement of the old roof with a new roof that would cost about $6,000, and new front steps. Complainant further testified that Exhibits D and E show that she received offers to sell the subject property for $40,000 and $45,000, respectively; Exhibit F shows the decrease in the value by the BOE for a previous year; Exhibit A shows a house that she believes is comparable to the subject property that is listed for $29,500; Exhibit B shows a house that appears to be nicer on the inside than the subject home that is listed for $59,000; Exhibit C shows the front of some homes that are similar to the subject property; Exhibits G and H are lists of houses that she compiled from information on the internet; Exhibits I is a house on Bates listed for $59,000 that she thinks has been renovated; and Exhibit J is a house on Virginia with wood floors rather than the subject property’s old carpet listed for $24,900. Complainant indicated that she chose properties based on similar square footage that were located in her general area.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent submitted Exhibit 1, an appraisal report prepared by Gerald C. Rowland, a real property appraiser I with Respondent, for the subject property determining the TVM of the subject property to be $110,400 as of January 1, 2019. Complainant did not object to Exhibit 1, and Exhibit 1 was received into evidence.
Mr. Rowland testified in support of Respondent’s value of $73,900. In Exhibit 1, Mr. Rowland utilized the sales comparison approach to estimate the market value of the subject property from recent sales of three comparable properties. The key property data in Exhibit 1 are as follows:
|Address||Subject Property||2917 Michigan Ave.||2916 Sidney St.||3135 Arsenal St.|
|Style||2 story brick||2 story brick||2 story brick||2.5 story brick|
The comparable properties are similar to the subject property with respect to number of bedrooms and approximate age. Two of the three comparables have the same style, and all of the comparable properties either have a one half bathroom difference or the same number of bathrooms as the subject property. The comparable properties differ from the subject property with respect to the size of the living area, which Exhibit 1 indicates has been adjusted for when determining an opinion of value.
- Value. The TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $73,900, with an assessed value of $14,040.
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. For this reason, the comparable sales approach is typically used to value residential property. “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). “It is within the purview of the hearing officer to determine the method of valuation to be adopted in a given case.” Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 9 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020). 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 her $46,000 to $47,000 opinion of value. Although Complainant testified as to the similarities and differences between properties discussed in Exhibits A, B, C, G, H, I, and J and the subject property, Complainant’s approach is not a generally accepted approach to value property. Rather than considering comparable sales prices, Exhibits A, B, C, I and J reflect listing prices. Further, no adjustments are made to account for differences between the subject property and the other properties. Likewise, Exhibits G and H do not utilize a generally accepted approach to value property as such exhibits include handwritten notes of addresses, prices, and square footage taken from the internet without making adjustments to account for differences between the subject property and the listed properties. Further, Complainant has not shown the specific source of the data included in Exhibits G and H, the reliability of such data, and other characteristics of the listed properties, such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and style of home.
Additionally, the offers to purchase the subject property in Exhibits D and F are not persuasive evidence that the market value of the subject property was $40,000 or $45,000 in March of 2020 because the evidence does not establish that the subject property was listed for a period of time in the open market.
Respondent, although not required to, presented persuasive evidence in support of his valuation. Exhibit 1 and Mr. Rowland’s testimony that he visited the property, selected three comparable properties from six that he had considered based on similarities to the subject property, and relied on comparable one, 2917 Michigan Avenue, more than the other comparables because it was most similar to the subject property persuasively support the TVM of $73,900 determined by Respondent.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Respondent’s determination is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $73,900 with an assessed value of $14,040.
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.
Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the application for review is based will result in summary denial. Section 138.432.
The Collector of the City of St. Louis, 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 June 4, 2021.
Laura A. Storck-Elam
Senior Hearing Officer
State Tax Commission
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been electronically mailed and/or sent by U.S. Mail on June 4, 2021, to: Complainant(s) and/or Counsel for Complainant(s), the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.
 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.
 Exhibit H also includes dates.