SANDRA POINTELIN, )
v. ) Appeal Number 01-73009
BOB RAINES, ASSESSOR, )
MORGAN COUNTY, MISSOURI, )
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the Morgan County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor, AFFIRMED, true value in money for the subject property for tax years 2001 and 2002 set at $248,300, assessed value of $47,180.
Complainant appeared pro se.
Respondent appeared pro se.
Case heard and decided by Chief Hearing Officer, W. B. Tichenor.
The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2001.
Complainant appeals the decision of the Morgan County Board of Equalization which sustained the valuation of the subject property. The Assessor determined an appraised value of $248,300 (assessed value of $47,180, as residential property). Complainant proposed a value of $225,000 (assessed value of $42,750). A hearing was conducted on December 14, 2001, at the Morgan County Courthouse, Versailles, Missouri.
The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
Complainant testified in her own behalf and offered into evidence two exhibits.
Exhibit A – Copy of Cover, Summary and page 1.1 of a summary appraisal of subject property performed by Gerald. E. McKenzie opinion a value of $225,205 as of December 2, 2000.
Exhibit B – A listing eight (8) properties, by name of property owner, assessed and market values, as shown by the Assessor’s records, which are in the same general area as the subject.
Exhibits A and B were received into evidence. Complainant’s opinion of value was based upon the McKenzie appraisal and the market values on the 8 properties shown on Exhibit B.
Respondent testified as to his appraisal of the subject property. Mr. Raines’ appraisal was marked as Exhibit 1 and was received into evidence. Exhibit 1 was offered to support the original valuation of the subject property at $248,300.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper. Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the Morgan County Board of Equalization.
2. The subject property is identified by parcel number 2111251 and is located at 30315 Autumn Road, Gravois Mills, Missouri. The property consists of a 107 x 92 lake front lot on the Lake of the Ozarks. The lot is improved by a house with 1700 square feet of base area and a total adjusted area of 3,592 square feet, which includes a 22 x 26 foot attached garage and wooden decks. The property is further improved by a two-well covered boat dock, retaining walls and concrete paving. The property is located in a neighborhood typical of the Lake of the Ozarks, having homes of various sizes, ages and values in the same area. The home was approximately 5 years old as of January 1, 2001, and has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Exhibits 1 and A.
3. There was no evidence of new construction and improvement during 2001.
4. Complainant’s evidence was not substantial and persuasive to rebut the procedural presumption of correct assessment by the Board and to establish the true value in money as of January 1, 2001, to be $225,000, as she proposed.
5. Respondent’s evidence provided substantial and persuasive support for the original valuation.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
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.
Board of Equalization Presumption
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). There is no presumption that the assessor’s valuation is correct. Section 138.431.3, RSMo.
Standard for Valuation
Section 137.115, RSMo 1994, 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, Inc. v. State Tax Commission, 564 S.W.2d 888, 897 (Mo. banc 1978).
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).
Trier of Fact
The Hearing Officer as the trier of fact may consider the testimony of an expert witness or an owner 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 or the owner who testify on the issue of reasonable value, but may believe all or none of the 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).
Opinion Testimony by Experts
If specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert on that subject, by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto.
The facts or data upon which an expert bases an opinion or inference may be those perceived by or made known to the expert at or before the hearing and must be of a type reasonably relied upon by experts in the field in forming opinions or inferences upon the subject and must be otherwise reliable, the facts or data need not be admissible in evidence. Section 490.065, RSMo; Courtroom Handbook on Missouri Evidence, Wm. A. Schroeder, Sections 702-505, pp. 325-350; Wulfing v. Kansas City Southern Industries, Inc., 842 S.W.2d 133 (Mo. App. E.D. 1992).
Complainant’s Burden of Proof
In order to prevail, Complainant 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, 2001. Hermel, Inc. v. State Tax Commission, 564 S.W.2d 888, at 897. 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).
Owner’s Opinion of Value
The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value. 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. Shelby County R-4 School District v. Hermann, 392 S.W.2d 609, 613 (Sup. 1965).
Methods of Valuation
Missouri courts have approved the comparable sales or market approach, the cost approach (replacement or construction) 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).
Complainant Fails To Prove Value
Complainant’s evidence of value in this appeal consists of her opinion of value based upon two documents, a summary appraisal report and a listing of values for eight properties in her neighborhood. Complainant’s opinion of value based on these two exhibits has insufficient probative value to rebut the presumption of correct assessment and establish value. In the face of Respondent’s appraisal further removes any probative value for Complainant’s opinion which it may have had in the absence of Mr. Raines’ appraisal.
Opinion Based on McKenzie Appraisal
Complainant based her opinion of value, in large, part on the appraisal performed by Gerald McKenzie, a state certified appraiser. This is a valid basis for an owner’s opinion of value. However, the appraiser was not present to testify as to his appraisal and to respond to various questions which would have been posed by the Hearing Officer or by the Respondent. Exhibit A did not contain the entirety of the appraisal report, only three pages from it.
For the Hearing Officer to give weight to the McKenzie appraisal, it would have to, at the minimum, provided enough data for the Hearing Officer to have been made aware of the underlying information upon which Mr. McKenzie was basing his opinion of value. Absent such foundation information, the appraisal has little probative value. Since the appraisal has little probative value, the owner’s opinion based thereof has little probative value. Assuming that Mr. Raines has simply not offered any evidence of value, the summary appraisal as the basis of the owner’s opinion would most likely have been sufficient to establish a value of $225,205 for the subject property. However, since Mr. Raines elected to perform his own appraisal and not just rely upon a mass cost valuation, he rebutted the impact of the McKenzie appraisal as it was offered.
Listing of Other Properties
Complainant’s reliance upon a listing of the market values determined by the Assessor on eight neighbor’s properties is not an appropriate methodology to arrive at an opinion of value. The list provided contains no information as to size of late lots, size of homes, age of homes, type of construction, and other basic and relevant data as to factors of comparability between the subject and these eight neighboring properties. Valuation of property by a method such as this is not recognized by the Commission or the Courts of the state as a valid approach to determining fair market value.
The list on its face demonstrates that the properties on the list are clearly properties which are greatly inferior on the whole to the subject, as the range of values runs from only $64,900 to $195,100. Showing market values for $120,00 or $150,000 homes does not establish the subject to be worth only $225,000 on January 1, 2001. Complainant’s opinion of valued based on Exhibit B is not established upon proper elements or a proper foundation for proving market value.
Complainant’s opinion of value is not sufficiently support by substantial and persuasive evidence upon which a determination of value can be made. Accordingly, the Assessor’s value, which was sustained by the Board must be affirmed.
Respondent’s Evidence Supports Original Valuation
Respondent performed an appraisal of the subject property (Exhibit 1) in which he utilized six sales of properties within 1 mile of the subject. All were very comparable in various relevant factors to the subject. The sole element the greatly separated the comparables from the subject was that the four of the comparables were located in homogenous neighborhoods. The subject is located in a very mixed neighborhood. After making appropriate adjustments to each of the sales, a range of indicated values from $258,249 to $319,640 was established.
Respondent then selected six other sales of lake front properties which were similar to the subject in relevant factors. This group of homes were all of smaller size than the subject, were all of older homes and four of the sales were on lots which would be considered generally inferior to the subject. Adjustments were made for various differences to produce a range of indicated values of $249,120 to $276,620.
In summary, Respondent’s two groupings of sales and the analysis of them provide substantial and persuasive evidence to support the mass appraisal system in this appeal.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board of Equalization for Morgan County for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2001 and 2002 is set at $47,180.
A party 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. Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the appeal is based will result in summary denial. Section 138.432, RSMo 1994.
If an application for review of this decision is made to the Commission, any protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accordance with this appeal shall be held pending the final decision of the Commission. If no application for review is received by the Commission within thirty (30) days, this decision and order is deemed final and the Collector of Morgan County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall disburse the protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accord with the decision on the underlying assessment in this appeal. If any or all protested taxes have been disbursed pursuant to Section 139.031(8), RSMo, either party may apply to the circuit court having jurisdiction of the cause for disposition of the protested taxes held by the taxing authority.
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 January 4, 2002.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
W. B. Tichenor
Chief Hearing Officer