In Gravers v. Scotch Plains Township, a residential tax appeal, we are reminded of the importance of hiring appraisers with experience in tax appeals and to ensure that they are familiar with the facts relevant to the subject property and the comparable property sales.
Here – on appeal from a judgment of the County Board of Taxation – while the plaintiff produced sufficient evidence to overcome the presumption of validity, the Tax Court found that the plaintiff’s real estate appraiser failed to provide sufficient credible evidence upon which the court could render a credible determination of value.
The court in Gravers stated that the “expert’s report and testimony in this matter was devoid of crucial and fundamental factual information, market data and analysis to enable the court to accord it any weight.” In this regard the court was referring to plaintiff’s appraiser not knowing critical information about the comparable single family home sales upon which he relied in formulating his opinion of value. He did not know the size or age of his comparables and in one case was not aware that the property had been on the market for only a few days before going under contract. The court found also that plaintiff’s expert was not aware that one sale of a single family home on a multi-acre lot was, in fact, a land sale, as shortly after the acquisition, the home was razed and the lot subdivided. Nor was the appraiser familiar with the “Non-Usable” codes used by assessor’s to denote those transactions that are not usable in determining the assessment to sales ratios pursuant to N.J.S.A. 54:1-55.1 et seq.; in other words, those transactions which may not be arms-length for one reason or another.
Finding inadequate factual information, data and analysis of comparable property sales to arrive at an independent determination of value, the court affirmed the assessment under appeal and dismissed plaintiff’s complaint.
A copy of the court’s opinion in Gravers may be found here.
More information on Non Usable sale designation may be found here.
For related articles on the presumption of validity and burden of proof see: