Lucy Rezny v. Jake Zimmerman, St Louis County Assessor

September 2nd, 2014

State Tax Commission of Missouri


Complainant, )  
) Appeal Number 13-11825







Decision of the County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED. Complainant did not present admissible evidence which was substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board of Equalization. Respondent’s presented substantial and persuasive evidence to affirm the value of the Board of Equalization; although not obliged to, as Complainant had the burden of proof..

True value in money for the subject property for tax years 2013 and 2014 is set at $580,500, residential assessed value of $110,290.

Complainant appeared pro se.

Respondent appeared by attorney Paula Lemerman

Case heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer John Treu.



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 Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2013. The value as of January 1 of the odd numbered year remains the value as of January 1 of the following even numbered year unless there is new construction and improvement to the property. Section 137.115.1 RSMo

The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.


  1. Jurisdiction. 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. Evidentiary Hearing. The Evidentiary Hearing was held on August 6, 2014 at St. Louis County Administration Building, Clayton, Missouri.
  3. Identification of Subject Property. The subject property is identified by map parcel number or locator number 25U430303. It is further identified as 536 Roaring Fork Drive, Grover, St. Louis County, Missouri.(Ex. 1)
  4. Description of Subject Property. The subject property consists of a 31,360 square foot tract of land improved by a single family, residential two story style home with a quality rating that meets or exceeds the requirements of the applicable building codes, with 4,491 square feet of living area. Amenities include four bedrooms and three and a half baths. It has a three car garage, a fireplace, a deck and a patio. It also has hardwood flooring, a Jack and Jill bath and a family room on the second floor. (Ex. 1)
  5. Sale of Subject. The subject property was not sold in the previous three years prior to January 1, 2013; although, “a quit claim deed was recorded on 03/11/2010 for the subject property between Rezny, Lucy and Savel, Alex Grantor and Rezney Lucy Grantee” Alex Savel is the husband of Complainant. (Ex. 1 and testimony on record). See, Methods of Valuation, infra.
  6. Assessment. The Assessor appraised the property at $580,500, an assessed residential value of $110,290. The Board of Equalization sustained the assessment. (Complainant’s Complaint and Ex. 1).
  7. Complainant’s Evidence.   Complainant offered into evidence Exhibit A. Exhibit A consisted of a Comparative Market Analysis by Alex Savel a real estate broker and complainant’s spouse. Exhibit A was objected to, but the exhibit was received into the evidentiary record with the understanding that the applicable law and regulations would be looked at regarding its admissibility. As set forth below, such Comparative Market Analysis was not properly admissible, should have been excluded from evidence and therefore will not be considered as evidence.
  8. No Evidence of New Construction & Improvement. There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2013, to January 1, 2014, therefore the assessed value for 2013 remains the assessed value for 2014. Section 137.115.1, RSMo.
  9. Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent offered into evidence Exhibit 1 – Appraisal Report dated 6/9/2014 with an Effective Date of 1/1/13 – Mark Stuart, Mo. State Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser.   Hearing Officer reserved judgment on receipt of Exhibit 1 until after cross examination by Complainant. Complainant, after cross examination remained concerned with its admission. Exhibit 1 was received into the evidentiary record subject to Complainants Objection/Questions. Exhibit 1 was properly received into evidence.
  10. Presumption of Correct Assessment Not Rebutted. 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, 2013, to be $520,000, as originally proposed by Complainant in her Complaint for Review of Assessment or as to the $530,000 value proposed by the inadmissible Comparative Market Analysis.



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. Article X, Section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, 138.431.4, RSMo.

Basis of Assessment

            The Constitution mandates that real property and tangible personal property be assessed at its value or such percentage of its value as may be fixed by law for each class and for each subclass. Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945. The constitutional mandate is to find the true value in money for the property under appeal. By statute real and tangible personal property are assessed at set percentages of true value in money. Section 137.115.5, RSMo – residential property at 19% of true value in money; commercial property at 32% of true value in money and agricultural property at 12% of true value in money.

Lack of Admissibility of Comparative Market Analysis

by a Real Estate Broker or Salesperson


12 CSR 30-3.065 states:



(4) Any appraisal or appraisal report, as those terms are defined in section 339.503 (1) and (4), which is filed with the commission or offered into evidence pursuant to 12 CSR 30-3.060 shall contain the Missouri Real Estate Appraisers Commission certificate or license number of the person or persons who developed the appraisal or appraisal report, or a statement setting forth the basis for exemption from licensure and certification for such persons pursuant to section 339.501.5, RSMo Supp. 1998. Any such appraisal or appraisal report failing to comply with this provision will be excluded from evidence at the evidentiary hearing on the valuation of the property under appeal.”

339.501.5 RSMo states:

“The provisions of sections 339.500 to 339.549 shall not be construed to require a license or certificate for:

(1) Any person, partnership, association or corporation who, as owner, performs appraisals of property owned by such person, partnership, association or corporation;

(2) Any licensed real estate broker or salesperson who prepares a comparative market analysis or a broker price opinion;

(3) Any employee of a local, state or federal agency who performs appraisal services within the scope of his or her employment; except that, this exemption shall not apply where any local, state or federal agency requires an employee to be registered, licensed or certified to perform appraisal services;

(4) Any employee of a federal or state-regulated lending agency or institution;

(5) Any agent of a federal or state-regulated lending agency or institution in a county of third or fourth classification. “

339.503 RSMO states;

“As used in sections 339.500 to 339.549, the following words and phrases mean, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

(1) “Appraisal” or “real estate appraisal”, an objective analysis, evaluation, opinion, or conclusion relating to the nature, quality, value or utility of specified interests in, or aspects of, identified real estate. An appraisal may be classified by subject matter into either a valuation or an analysis;

(7) “Appraisal report”, any communication, written or oral, of an appraisal. The purpose of an appraisal is immaterial, therefore valuation reports, real estate counseling reports, real estate tax counseling reports, real estate offering memoranda, mortgage banking offers, highest and best use studies, market demand and economic feasibility studies and all other reports communicating an appraisal analysis, opinion or conclusion are appraisal reports, regardless of title;

(14) “Broker price opinion”, an opinion of value, prepared by a real estate licensee for a fee, that includes, but is not limited to, analysis of competing properties, comparable sold properties, recommended repairs and costs or suggested marketing techniques. A broker price opinion is not an appraisal and shall specifically state it is not an appraisal;

(19) “Comparative market analysis”, the analysis of sales of similar recently sold properties in order to derive an indication of the probable sales price of a particular property undertaken by a licensed real estate broker or agent, for his or her principal. A comparative market analysis is not an appraisal and shall specifically state it is not an appraisal


Complainant offered into evidence Exhibit A, a Comparative Market Analysis done by a real estate broker and Complainant’s spouse. Exhibit A was objected to, but the exhibit was received into the evidentiary record with the understanding that the applicable law and regulations would be looked at regarding its admissibility. After a critical reading of the applicable Regulation and Statutes as set forth above, this Hearing Officer concludes that a Comparative Market Analysis done by a real estate broker or salesperson is inadmissible, should have been excluded and therefore will not be considered.

Presumption In Appeal

There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the County Board of 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). This presumption is a rebuttable rather than a conclusive presumption. It places the burden of going forward with some substantial evidence on the taxpayer – Complainant. When some substantial evidence is produced by the Complainant, “however slight”, the presumption disappears and the Hearing Officer, as trier of facts, receives the issue free of the presumption. United Missouri Bank of Kansas City v. March, 650 S.W.2d 678, 680-81 (Mo. App. 1983), citing to State ex rel. Christian v. Lawry, 405 S.W.2d 729, 730 (Mo. App. 1966) and cases therein cited. The presumption is not evidence of value. 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. Hermel, supra; Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).

Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. See, Cupples-Hesse, supra. 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).

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, 2013. Hermel, supra. 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.” 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). A valuation which does not reflect the fair market value (true value in money) of the property under appeal is an unlawful, unfair and improper assessment.

Owner’s Opinion of Value

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, 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).

“Where the basis for a test as to the reliability of the testimony is not supported by a statement of facts on which it is based, or the basis of fact does not appear to be sufficient, the testimony should be rejected.” Carmel Energy at 783. A taxpayer does not meet his burden if evidence on any essential element of his case leaves the Commission “in the nebulous twilight of speculation, conjecture and surmise.” See, Rossman v. G.G.C. Corp. of Missouri, 596 S.W.2d 469, 471 (Mo. App. 1980).

Board Presumption

The Assessor’s original value in this appeal was determined by the Board to be correct. Accordingly, the taxpayer must rebut that presumption in order to prevail. The taxpayer must establish by substantial and persuasive evidence that the value concluded by the Board is in error and what the correct value should be. The burden, of course, is discharged by simply establishing the fair market value of the property as of the valuation date, since once fair market value is established it, a fortiori, proves that the Board’s value was in error. The computer-assisted presumption plays no role in this process.

Computer-Assisted Presumption

            The computer assisted presumption can only come into play in those instances where the Respondent is seeking to have the Assessor’s original valuation affirmed. If in a given appeal the Respondent is offering evidence that would establish a value less than the original valuation, then the computer-assisted presumption is not applicable to that appeal. Even if the Board has reduced the valuation and the Respondent’s evidence is offered to increase the value, but not to the level of the original valuation, the computer-assisted presumption does not come into play.

If the Board of Equalization sustained the valuation of the Assessor, such does not negate the fact that the Board presumption remains operative as to evidence which is presented by the taxpayer and Respondent. The Board Valuation is assumed to be an independent valuation.

Respondent’s Burden of Proof

In charter counties or the City of St. Louis, the Respondent, when wishing to advocate for a valuation to return the valuation to the Assessor’s original valuation, which was higher than the value assigned by the Board of Equalization, 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. If the Board of Equalization sustained the valuation of the Assessor, as in this case, the computer assisted presumption does not come into play, as the Boards valuation, is an independent valuation.

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).  True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange and not value in use. Daly v. P. D. George Company, et al, 77 S.W.3d 645, 649 (Mo. App E.D. 2002), citing, Equitable Life Assurance Society v. STC, 852 S.W.2d 376, 380 (Mo. App. 1993); citing, Stephen & Stephen Properties, Inc. v. STC, 499 S.W.2d 798, 801-803 (Mo. 1973).  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.


  1. Both parties are well informed and well advised, and both acting in what they consider their own best interests.


  1. A reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market.


  1. Payment is made in cash or its equivalent.


  1. 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.


Investigation by Hearing Officer

In order to investigate appeals filed with the Commission, 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. The Hearing Officer’s decision regarding the assessment or valuation of the property may be based solely upon his inquiry and any evidence presented by the parties, or based solely upon evidence presented by the parties. Section 138.430.2, RSMo. The Hearing Officer during the evidentiary hearing made inquiry of Complainant and Respondent’s appraiser.

Weight to be Given Evidence

            The Hearing Officer is not bound by any single formula, rule or method in determining true value in money, but is free to consider all pertinent facts and estimates and give them such weight as reasonably they may be deemed entitled. The relative weight to be accorded any relevant factor in a particular case is for the Hearing Officer to decide. St. Louis County v. Security Bonhomme, Inc., 558 S.W.2d 655, 659 (Mo. banc 1977); St. Louis County v. STC, 515 S.W.2d 446, 450 (Mo. 1974); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company v. STC, 436 S.W.2d 650 (Mo. 1968).

The Hearing Officer as the trier of fact may consider the testimony of an expert witness and give it as much weight and credit as he may deem it entitled to when viewed in connection with all other circumstances. The Hearing Officer is not bound by the opinions of experts who testify on the issue of reasonable value, but may believe all or none of the expert’s testimony and accept it in part or reject it in part. St. Louis County v. Boatmen’s Trust Co., 857 S.W.2d 453, 457 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Vincent by Vincent v. Johnson, 833 S.W.2d 859, 865 (Mo. 1992); Beardsley v. Beardsley, 819 S.W.2d 400, 403 (Mo. App. 1991); Curnow v. Sloan, 625 S.W.2d 605, 607 (Mo. banc 1981).

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 Supreme Court of Missouri has also held that evidence of the actual sales price of property is admissible to establish value at the time of an assessment, provided that such evidence involves a voluntary purchase not too remote in time. The actual sale price is a method that may be considered for estimating true value. St. Joe Minerals Corp., supra


Respondent Prove Value

Respondent presented substantial and persuasive evidence to establish a fair market value as of January 1, 2013. Respondent’s appraiser developed an opinion of value relying upon an established and recognized approach for the valuation of real property, the sales comparison or market approach. The sales comparison approach is generally recognized to be the most reliable methodology to be utilized in the valuation of single-family residences.

Respondent put on substantial and persuasive evidence, via an appraisal report that the true market value of the property, as of 1/1/2013 was 590,000; however, as set forth above, such 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  The comparable properties fell between .24 and .54 miles of the subject property. The gross living areas of the comparable properties fell between 177 and 774 square feet of the subject property. All of the comparables were of the same quality and condition as the subject property. The comparable sold between June 2012 and June of 2013 and sold between $562,000 and $629,000. The adjustments made the appraiser were consistent with generally accepted guidelines for the appraisal of property of the subject’s type. The adjustments properly accounted for the various differences between the subject and each comparable.


The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board of Equalization for St. Louis County for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.

The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2013 and 2014 is set at $110,290.

Application for Review

A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty days of the mailing date set forth in the Certificate of Service for this Decision. The application shall contain specific facts or law as 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, 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.

          Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the application for review is based will result in summary denial. Section 138.432, RSMo

Disputed Taxes

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 139.031.8, 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 this 2nd day of September, 2014.



John Treu

Senior Hearing Officer

Certificate of Service

Delivery or Notice was made to the following Individuals on September 2nd, 2014 of this Decision and Order Holding

Lucy Rezny, Complainant,

Paula Lemerman, Associate County Counsel, Attorney for Respondent,

Jake Zimmerman, Assessor,

Mark Devore, Collector,


Jacklyn Wood

Legal Coordinator