STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR||)|
|ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI||)
DECISION AND ORDER
Thomas Badino 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 $375,000. Complainant claims the property is overvalued and proposes a value of $306,500. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation. The BOE’s decision is affirmed. The parties waived their opportunity for an evidentiary hearing and agreed to submit the appeals on the record.² Complainant, pro se, and Respondent, represented by Counsel Monique McNutt, each submitted their respective evidence for appeal on the record.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Subject Property. The subject property is located at 12114 Cheryl Court in Saint Louis, Missouri. The parcel/locator number is 28L520655.
The subject property consists of an 18,295 square foot lot and a 3,000 square foot single family home. The home has 11 total rooms, including four bedrooms and two and one-half bathrooms.
- Respondent and BOE. Respondent classified the subject property as residential and determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $390,100. The BOE classified the subject property as residential and independently determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $375,000.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant submitted evidence that the TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $306,500. Based on Complainant’s evidence, the theory of Complainant’s case was that Respondent’s comparable homes were not proper comparable properties. Complainant submitted his one comparable home sale. There was no evidence presented that Complainant is a licensed appraiser or a person possessing appraisal training. Complainant submitted the following exhibits:
|A||Explanation of Property||Admitted|
|B||Hyperlinks to Respondent’s Exhibit 1 listed comparable homes||Admitted|
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent submitted Exhibit 1, the restricted appraisal report and the Written Direct Testimony (WDT) of Sharon Kuelker determining the TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $380,000. Ms. Kuelker has approximately 20 years of experience in appraising residential property. In Exhibit 1, Ms. Kuelker utilized the sales comparison approach to estimate the January 1, 2019, market value of the subject property. Ms. Kuelker’s direct testimony concluded the market value was $380,000.
Ms. Kuelker’s comparable sales approach utilized five similar properties located within one mile of the subject property. Ms. Kuelker adjusted the sale prices of the comparable properties to account for differences with the subject property. The comparable properties are similar to the subject property with respect to location, condition, overall usage (single family residential), construction type, and size. The comparable properties differ from the subject property with respect to age (varying between more than 20 years older and at least 10 years newer), upgraded finished basements and outdoor amenities (several with a pool/outdoor deck, and the subject home has only a patio).
Exhibit 1 utilizes the sales comparison approach to estimate the market value of the subject property from recent sales of five comparable properties. The key property data in Exhibit 1 are as follows:
|Subject Property||10415 Freedom Ct||10706 Burrow Dr||11004 Kingsmere Ct||10611 Hackamore Lane||10212 Albury Ct|
|Construction||2 story brick||2 story brick||2 story brick||2 story brick||2 story brick||2 story brick|
- Value. The TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $375,000.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- Assessment and Valuation
Pursuant to Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945 real property and tangible personal property is 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. 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.
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. 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. Id.
- Complainant’s Burden of Proof
The BOE’s valuation is presumptively correct. Rinehart v. Laclede Gas Co., 607 S.W.3d 220, 227 (Mo. App. W.D. 2020). To prove overvaluation, a taxpayer must rebut the BOE’s presumptively correct valuation and prove the “value that should have been placed on the property.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 346. The taxpayer’s evidence must be both “substantial and persuasive.” 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”). A taxpayer does not meet his burden if evidence on any essential element of his case leaves the STC “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).
- Complainant Did Not Prove Overvaluation.
Complainant estimated the subject property should have been $306,500 due to condition of the property. Complaint’s Exhibit A includes the explanation of Complainant’s alleged value calculated as $390,100 – $83,608 (the St Louis County Assessor’s value minus remodel bids for repairs collected by Complainant). Complainant’s Exhibit B is a list of hyperlinks to the comparable homes listed in Respondents Exhibit 1. All of Complainants evidence is admitted into the record; however, the evidence lacks authentication and is speculative and is weighed accordingly. Specifically, Exhibit B is unpersuasive because it is not backed by any proper appraisal. See Cohen, 251 S.W.3d at 349 (holding a landowner’s opinion of value lacks probative value when there is “no other evidence as to what he based his opinion on or how he arrived at his opinion of [value]”). Further, there was no appraisal of the subject property submitted by Complainant. The data submitted by Complainant for his comparable home was not authenticated and the sales price of that home was not adjusted with the subject property to find a proper appraisal comparison. Therefore, all of the comparable home data and analysis submitted in Complainants Exhibit(s) is both speculative and incomplete (see Exhibits A and B).
Respondent’s Exhibit 1 utilizes the comparable sales approach to estimate that the value of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $380,000. (Ex. 1 at 2). Exhibit 1 demonstrates there is an active market for five similar single-family homes in the subject property’s neighborhood and there is sufficient data to make a comparative analysis. See Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 348 (noting 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”). Ms. Kuelker credibly testified in the WDT that the comparable sales approach was the best valuation approach for the subject property. Ms. Kuelker specifically addressed the condition of the subject property, including the remodel bids submitted by Complainant, and testified that in her appraisal she adjusted the comparable sales according to condition of each home valued (see WDT at 4-5 and Exhibit 1). The comparable sales approach utilized in Exhibit 1 is an appropriate valuation method. See Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 341, 347.
In an STC hearing, Respondent “shall not advocate nor present evidence advocating a valuation higher than that value finally determined by the assessor or the value determined by the BOE, whichever is higher, for that assessment period.” Section 138.060.1. If Respondent introduces “evidence indicating a higher value than the value finally determined by the assessor or the value determined by the board of equalization … such evidence 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.” 12 CSR 30-3.075(1). Respondent’s Exhibit 1 concludes the market value of the subject property is higher than the value determined by the Respondent or the BOE. Respondent, however, did not advocate a value higher than that determined by the BOE. Exhibit 1 is admissible as evidence for sustaining the value assigned by the BOE. 12 CSR 30-3.075(1). The WDT does indicate that $375,000 is a reasonable value.
In sum, Respondent’s Exhibits constitute substantial and persuasive evidence to affirm the BOE’s valuation of the subject property at $375,000.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The BOE decision is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $375,000.
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 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 June 4, 2021.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Erica M. Gage
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, § 14; section 138.430.1, RSMo 2000. All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.
² Section 138.431.5 provides the “hearing officer, after affording the parties reasonable opportunity for fair hearing, shall issue a decision and order affirming, modifying, or reversing the determination of the BOE, and correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary, or capricious.”