I'll speak in general term regarding SCAR cases and
what transpired. I will not identify parties, but rather the issues
Petitioner argued recent sale of subject property if at arms length
and not abnormal in any way is best indication of value. This is
accepted to be generally true, but it depends on the circumstance.
Also, I take into consideration the opposite argument"Welcome
Stranger" and I dont allow a tax payer to have their cake and
eat it too. Sale of the subject property whether it benefit property
owner or damages property owner to me is counted as a sale with
weight. It is indicative, but not to be used literally. In this
case the property owner had recently purchased the property. T
he seller didn't use their own attorney. The transaction did
appear to not be completely arms length. Also the comparable's used
in the supplied appraisal were quite dissimilar. The sale was noted,
but it had to be adjusted for an anomaly in the circumstance. The
Assessor was presumed to be accurate. The property owner did not
meet the burden of proof.
2) Repeated flooding that only impacted this particular property
had water running thru the duct work and a moat around the house
and water levels a foot deep all around the house. I concluded the
lot was worth $15,000 and it would cost $10,000 to tear the house
down so value was set at $5,000 and the town was told that if they
can fix the drainage they could come back with a higher assessment
figure at that time.
3) A neighbor to the above property also had flooding. It
didn't impact the house like the other property. Assessor agreed
to stipulate and the matter was settled.
4) Nice new construction in the woods by a creek. Neither
side had any close comparable's. I asked if they could work something
out if i went out in the hall. They met in the middle and everyone
seemed happy. Property owner called me later and asked if they would
have done better had I made the decision. I told him honestly, that
I didn't know. It was a tough call. But I think he did OK.
I had a really disturbing case in that the property
owner paid very little for a property he was to rent out. The Assessor
raised his assessment 8 times what he paid for it. Assessor argued
it is not owner occupied. Property owner admitted it wasn't. I had
no choice but to dismiss it as I didn't have jurisdiction. That
really bothered me because I knew he was getting a raw deal. But
to qualify for SCAR the property has to be owner occupied. It doesn't
seem right that you would need to go to supreme court over a house
$15,000 was paid for. But that is the law. As ridiculous as it may
seem. Or is.
6) There were two very similar properties side by side. I
asked what the difference was. The Petitioner said the difference
is the neighbors house was owned by the Assessors daughter and was
assessed at about 1/2 of the petitioners. The Assessor respond by
saying there was a reval done and they skipped his daughters house.
The Assessor then stipulated to what the Petitioner asked.
7) Petitioner had a log home of which there were plenty of
comparable sales except that he also had a lot of land the others
didn't have. He claimed political bias. The land value had been
set from a previous SCAR petition so we left that where it was and
altered the house to what the other cottages, including one owned
by the previous assessor were assessed at. The Assessor indicated
the petitioner had a lot of data but none of it seemed relevant.
Petitioner had provided a binder with approximately 70 sales and
comparable assessments. I indicated they seemed quite relevant to
8) House was under construction but not finished. It did have
a certificate of occupancy and the owner lived in it but the interior
was not complete. Petitioner brought his appraiser and the appraiser
testified to the completeness of the interior. Assessor indicated
he had not seen the interior. So we went with a figure to compensate
for the incomplete nature of the interior. And we made land adjustments
to more accurately identify the mix of land types as part of the
property was under major power lines.
9) Waterfront property land was argued as over assessed. It
was an irregularly shaped lake. It is very difficult to compare
parcels as they are all different. This one was assessed as one
of the highest assessed parcels but didn't seem to be anywhere near
the best. So an adjustment was made.
10) Property was new construction and assessed at a level
higher than any property in the township had ever sold. Assessor
used a building permit that indicated estimated cost to construct.
Problem is the permit indicated a number for cost of a structure
twice as large as what was built. Plus, cost does not equal value.
The Assessor had no comparable sales to support his figure as there
were none. A lot of the value of the land was as a corn field. Petitioner
indicated that the value of corn had been cut in half since the
land was purchased. A significant reduction was ordered and the
Assessor told to keep an eye out for sales that could justify his
previous figure. I didn't believe it was appropriate to speculate
what it could sell for. We need actual sales.
simply did not support the figures the Assessor was suggesting.