FINAL ORDER AND DECISION
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
This matter came before me pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 12-60-2540(A)(2000) for a
contested case hearing requested by Mary A. Lofton against the Hampton County Assessor.
Petitioner contests the Assessor's reassessment for the 2002 tax year of a 1998 Pioneer manufactured
home identified as TMS#149-00-00-218.02, located at 261 Swan Road, Varnville, Hampton County,
The Petitioner exhausted all prehearing remedies with the Assessor and the Hampton County
Board of Assessment Appeals and is now before the Administrative Law Judge Division. The hearing
of this matter was conducted on February 28, 2003, at the offices of the Division in Columbia, South
Carolina. At the call of the case, the parties were present as indicated above.
FINDINGS OF FACT
Based upon the evidence presented, I make the following findings of fact, taking into
consideration the burden on the parties to establish their respective cases by a preponderance of the
evidence, and taking into account the credibility of the witnesses.
1.This Division has personal and subject matter jurisdiction.
2.Notice of the date, time, place and nature of the hearing was timely given to all parties.
3.The mobile home at issue is a 1998 Pioneer mobile home with approximately 2025
square feet. The original purchase price of this home in October 1998 was $67,227, or $33.20 per
square foot. The home had been foreclosed upon, but was for sale on the open market through Hanna
Realty Company for $32,500. The Petitioner purchased this mobile home from NationsCredit through
Hanna Realty on July 19, 2001, for $17,700.00 for the home and $3,800.00 for the lot, for a total
purchase price of $21,500.00. The Petitioner’s purchase price was thus $8.74 per square foot. At
the time it was purchased by the Petitioner, there was extensive damage to the interior of the home,
including damaged walls, ceilings, plumbing fixtures, carpet and wiring. Several interior doors and
appliances were missing. The exterior skirting was damaged and the stairs were rickety. The
Petitioner has since repaired much of the damage.
4.The County assessment for tax year 2001 was $62,500, or $30.86 per square foot.
NationsCredit, the owner of record on December 31, 2000 who received the 2001 tax bill did not
object to the assessment. After she purchased this home in July of 2001, Mrs. Lofton tried to protest
the assessment on July 14, 2001, but was told her complaint was untimely. She paid her taxes under
5. In 2001, the County conducted a county-wide reassessment, including mobile
homes. The Assessor’s Office factored in the square footage, age, roof type, quality of the home,
heating and cooling systems, foundation, and purchase price to determine value. Following this
reassessment, the home was valued at $62,500, which was dropped to $49,800, or $24.59 per square
foot, based in part on the condition of the home. On April 14, 2002, Mrs. Lofton objected to the
6.The Hampton County Board of Assessment Appeals held a hearing on July 7, 2002,
where the Petitioner claimed the value of her property was $30,000. On July 26, 2002,the Board
issued its decision that the depreciation for fire damage would be increased to 5%, so the value of the
home would be reduced to $48,800, or $24.10 per square foot. This Petition followed.
7.The Petitioner’s position is that the Board erroneously considered her initial purchase
of the home a distress sale because the home had been through foreclosure earlier; that there never
should have been an increase in the appraised value of the home in 2001; and that the method of
determining fair market value of mobile homes in Hampton County is incorrect.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW1. This Division has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §12-60-
2. Once the assessor establishes the basis for the valuation, his decision as to the situs
of property, its taxability, and the valuation put on it generally is presumed correct until the contrary
appears, and the person complaining has the burden of proving his grievance. Newberry Mills v.
Dawkins, 259 S.C. 7, 190 S.E.2d 503 (1972); 84 C.J.S. Taxation §537 (1954). The taxpayer has met
this burden if she proves the actual value of the property is other than that determined by the taxing
authority. Cloyd v. Mabry, 295 S.C. 86, 367 S.E.2d 171 (Ct. App.1988).
3. S.C. Code Ann. §12-37-90 (Supp. 2002) provides that all counties shall have an
assessor, whose responsibility is appraising and listing all real property. Mobile homes are an
anomaly, because they are personal property but are assessed as real property, since they can be
attached to the land and used as a residence. S.C. Code Ann. § 12-37-224 (Supp. 2002).
4. As the party contesting the assessing authority's valuation, the Petitioner has the
burden of proving the actual value of the properties. See Reliance Insurance Co. v. Smith, 327 S.C.
528, 489 S.E.2d 674 (Ct. App. 1997); Cloyd v. Mabry, 295 S.C. 86, 367 S.E.2d 171, 173 (Ct. App.
1988). While the Petitioner asserts that the Assessor’s values are too high, she has failed to present
any concrete, contrary evidence, such as an independent appraisal, as to the proper value of the
subject property. Consequently, the assessing authority's value is presumed correct. See Reliance
Insurance Co., 327 S.C. at 534. “All property must be assessed uniformly and equitably throughout
the State....” S.C. Code Ann. §12-43-210(A)(Supp.2002).
5.Fair market value is the measure of true value for taxation purposes. Lindsey v. S.C
Tax Comm'n, 302 S.C. 504, 397 S.E.2d 95 (1990). There is no valid distinction between market value
for sales purposes and market value for taxation purposes under S.C. Code Ann. §12-37-930. S.C.
Tax Comm'n v. S.C. Tax Board of Review, 287 S.C. 415, 339 S.E.2d 131 (Ct. App. 1985). Fair
market value is defined in S.C. Code § 12-37-930 (Rev. 2002) as: “ . . . the price which the property
would bring following reasonable exposure to the market, where both the seller and the buyer are
willing, are not under compulsion, and are reasonably well informed of the uses and purposes for
which it is adapted and for which it is capable of being used.”
6. S.C. Code Ann. §12-37-930 (Supp. 1995) provides that real property must be valued
All real property must be valued for taxation at its true value in money which in all
cases is the price which the property would bring following reasonable exposure to
the market, where both the seller and buyer are willing, are not acting under
compulsion, and are reasonably well informed as to the uses and purposes for which
it is adapted and for which it is capable for being used.
7.While not conclusive, market sales of comparable properties present probative
evidence of the fair market value of similar property.. See Smith v. Newberry County Assessor, 350
S.C. 572, 567 S.E. 2d 501 (Ct. App. 2002); 84 C.J.S. Taxation §§ 410-411 at 785, 797 (1954). At
trial, the Respondent presented testimony and documentary evidence of additional appraisals done
on similarly situated properties. These appraisals showed the initial purchase price of three
comparable manufactured homes, made by the same company as the Petitioner’s home, and originally
purchased from different retailers surrounding Hampton County. The Respondent’s exhibit showed
that the assessed value per square foot of each of the four mobile homes, the subject home and three
comparables was $25.00. This figure was then adjusted for depreciation, based on the condition of
each individual home.
8. In this case, the Petitioner has attempted to use comparable sales to show that
the value of her property should be less than those sales. She has failed, however, to have an
independent appraisal done. She has attempted to rely on the listings of these other properties and
the knowledge of her own property to form her comparisons. Even assuming that the Petitioner’s
initial purchase price of $21,500 was an arm’s length transaction, the current assessment of $48,800,
and $24.10 per square foot, is in line with other similarly situated properties, based on the evidence
presented by the assessor.ORDER
Based upon the foregoing Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, it is hereby
ORDERED that the Hampton County Assessor’s reassessment of the property is
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.
Carolyn C. Matthews
Administrative Law Judge
June 9, 2003
Columbia, South Carolina