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Marinov v. Tippecanoe County Assessor

Tax Court of Indiana

February 20, 2019

VASSIL MARINOV & VENETKA MARINOVA, Petitioners,
v.
TIPPECANOE COUNTY ASSESSOR, Respondent.

          ON APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE INDIANA BOARD OF TAX REVIEW

          PETITIONERS APPEARING PRO SE: VASSIL MARINOV VENETKA MARINOVA West Lafayette, IN.

          ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT: CURTIS T. HILL, JR. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA, ALEKSANDRINA P. PRATT ZACHARY D. PRICE DEPUTY ATTORNEYS GENERAL Indianapolis, IN.

          WENTWORTH, JUDGE.

         Vassil Marinov and Venetka Marinova (Marinovs) challenge the final determination of the Indiana Board of Tax Review that established the assessed value of their real property for the 2014 tax year. Upon review, the Court affirms the Indiana Board's final determination.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Marinovs own a 3, 090 square foot, single-family home situated on a 0.3064 acre lot in the Wake Robin subdivision in West Lafayette. (Cert. Admin. R. at 190-91.) When the Marinovs purchased the subject property in 2004, its assessed value was $205, 200, with $36, 900 allocated to the land and $168, 300 to the improvements. (Cert. Admin. R. at 66, 191-92.)

         In 2006, the property's assessed value increased to $216, 200, which the Marinovs appealed requesting that it be reduced to $172, 000. (Cert. Admin. R. at 192.) Although the Tippecanoe County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA) and the Indiana Board ultimately denied the 2006 appeal, the Assessor reduced the property's assessed value to $173, 200 for the 2007 tax year based on an appraisal the Marinovs presented during the 2006 appeal process. (Cert. Admin. R. at 192, 194.) To achieve that value, the Assessor applied a 24% obsolescence adjustment to the property.[1] (See Cert. Admin. R. at 194-95, 278-79.)

         During tax years 2008-2013, the property's assessed value ranged from $169, 600 in 2008 to $149, 000 in 2013. (Cert. Admin. R. at 194.) In 2014, the Assessor removed the obsolescence factor and assigned a $187, 700 assessed value, resulting in an assessed value 26% higher than that in 2013. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 196.) Believing the 2014 assessed value to be too high, the Marinovs appealed first to the PTABOA and thereafter to the Indiana Board.

         On August 9, 2017, the Indiana Board conducted a hearing on the Marinovs' appeal. The Indiana Board explained that because the property's assessed value increased by more than 5%, the Assessor bore the burden of proof in the administrative process.[2] (See Cert. Admin. R. at 120 ¶ 21, 180-81.) To meet his burden of proof, the Assessor presented an estimate of value using the sales comparison approach[3] and a time trend analysis to show that the original 2014 assessed value actually undervalued the property. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 71-83, 183-86, 245-46.)

         The Assessor's sales comparison approach compiled sales information from seven, two-story houses within a 1400-foot radius of the subject property that sold between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013. (Cert. Admin. R. at 71-72, 197-98.) To account for differences between the subject property and the comparable properties, the Assessor developed a linear regression model based on 101 property sales in the Wake Robin subdivision from 2009-2016.[4] (See Cert. Admin. R. at 73-82, 203-12.) Applying that analysis, the Assessor determined that the time of sale, age, grade, living area, and garage size were the most relevant factors affecting the subject property's value and then adjusted the seven comparable properties according to the differences in those characteristics. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 73-82, 206-15.) As a result, the Assessor's sales comparison approach estimated an assessed value of $237, 400. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 71, 215.)

         In addition, the Assessor used sales information from the 101 linear regression properties to develop a time trend analysis, which shows the percentage change in the price per square foot over a specified time period. (Cert. Admin. R. at 83, 244-46.) The time trend analysis indicated that the value of properties in the Wake Robin subdivision increased by 22.29% from the subject property's purchase date of July 23, 2004, to the 2014 assessment date. (Cert. Admin. R. at 83, 244-46.) Applying that percentage to the subject property's $166, 000 purchase price resulted in an assessed value estimate of $203, 000 for 2014. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 83, 245-46.)

         Finally, the Assessor examined the sales data from the linear regression properties to ensure that the 2014 assessed value was reasonable. The Assessor testified that the subject property's 2014 assessed value of $187, 700 correlates to a sale price of approximately $61 per square foot, which was within the range of the market sales in the Wake Robin subdivision or even a bit lower. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 83, 247-48.) In comparison, the Marinovs' proposed 2014 assessed value of $149, 000 equates to $48 price per square foot, a price below all of the 101 sales. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 83, 247-48.) As a result, the Assessor removed the 24% obsolescence adjustment that had reduced the value of the Marinovs' property and determined that his 2014 assessed value brought the Marinovs' valuation in line with the other comparable properties in their neighborhood. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 247-48, 276-77.)

         The Marinovs, on the other hand, presented a list of property assessments in the Wake Robin subdivision showing that other property assessments in that neighborhood had only increased by 0%-2% between 2013 and 2014 but their assessment increased by 26%.[5] (See Cert. Admin. R. at 60-62, 260-64.) The Marinovs argued that such a ...


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