Jones v. City of Norwalk
A court can find that one of the municipal assessor's comparable sales was not really comparable, because that property was substantially larger and new. The City of Norwalk assessed the fair market value of the plaintiffs' property at $2.59 million, as of Oct. 1, 2008, and the plaintiffs appealed and argued that their property was over assessed. The plaintiffs' 1.75-acre property has a swimming pool, a tennis court and a colonial residence. The plaintiffs' appraiser, Guy Rocco, described the property's condition as fair, with good water views, although there is a steep drop off to wetlands at the rear of the residence, and opined that the fair market value was $1.75 million. The municipal appraiser, Michael Stewart, opined that the fair market value was $2.44 million. The court rejected the municipal assessor's use of a comparable sale that was substantially larger and new. That property did not qualify as a comparable sale. The court also disagreed with the municipal assessor's conclusion that the water view of the subject property and a neighboring property were comparable. The neighbor's water view was even better. The court found that part of the subject property is unusable, because of the steep drop off to wetlands, and that the value of the land, which the city estimated at $2.071 million, should be reduced $150,000. Although the evidence supported Rocco's assessment that the swimming pool and tennis court were only in fair condition, the court rejected Rocco's claim that they were "functionally" obsolescent, because they are only available for use certain months. There was no evidence that the swimming pool and tennis court were not operable. The court also did not credit Rocco's claim that Tudor residences used as comparable sales possess higher value than colonial residences. The court increased Rocco's estimate of $1.75 million about $50,000 for the swimming pool and tennis court and another $50,000 for the colonial residence. The court found that the fair market value of the subject property, as of Oct. 1, 2008, was $2.05 million.