Reason #1: inappropriate designation of Agricultural Use according to existing state law Much of Dusty’s Facebook discussion about the valuation of John Barrett’s home on Shawnee Run centered on the state law that allows farmland to be taxed at a lower rate than residential. This summarization comes from the Ohio State Tax page:
For property tax purposes, farmland devoted exclusively to commercial agriculture may be valued according to its current use rather than at its “highest and best” potential use. This provision of Ohio law is known as the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) program. By permitting values to be set well below true market values, the CAUV normally results in a substantially lower tax bill for working farmers. To qualify for the CAUV, land must meet one of the following requirements during the three years preceding an application for the CAUV: Ten or more acres must be devoted exclusively to commercial agricultural use; or If under ten acres are devoted exclusively to commercial agricultural use, the farm must produce an average yearly gross income of at least $2,500. Applications for CAUV must be filed with the county auditor.
Here’s the most recent aerial view taken from the Hamilton County Auditor’s site:
Over half of the 18.905 acre property would have to be devoted exclusively to commercial agricultural use or the farm must produce an average yearly gross income of at least $2,500. It is the county auditor who is responsible for determination of appropriate Current Agricultural designation, not the state.
Reason #2: Inaccurate Descriptions of Property Improvements
My major concern about the valuation of this property lies in the discrepency between the description of the property on the Auditor’s site and what I can see with my own eyes and have heard from people who have visited John Barrett’s home. There are 3 cards on this parcel.
According to the residential description the house includes, 7 bedrooms, 6 fireplaces, 6 baths, one half bath, no garage capacity (contrary to current photo of home) and is 2 story, 6551 square feet.
Card 2: outbuildings
This is the picture of card 2 that describes the outbuildings, exclusive of the poolhouse. Written description of the card itemizes a garage frame of 1460 square feet, an open porch frame of 144 square feet, a shed frame of 240 square feet, frame stable of 924 square feet built in 1939, and a utility shed of 169 square feet built in 1965. Here is the screenshot from Google maps that seems to best portray the range of buildings included on this card:
Does this look like a 924 square foot frame stable to you? What is it?
The description of this building is of 1 story height, 4 total rooms, 1 bedroom, 2503 square feet, basement, garage capacity of 2 cars, 4 full bathrooms and central air. Improvements page also shows an elevator – which seems mighty strange since the description of this building is one story. A building permit was issued on October 29, 2009 that states it was a new addition to an existing accessory poolhouse with unfinished basement, 2-car garage, and rear porch. This is the only building permit on record for this address. This is the screen shot of the same building from Google Maps:
Though there is only one building permit on record for this address, the one for the pool house, the Auditor’s Value History page shows an entry for new construction – full value on 9/27/2011 (over $200,000). The final inspection was done on the poolhouse building permit on 12/9/2009. What kind of new construction was done on the home that the Auditor acknowledges but didn’t need a building permit? The total value of all these improvements, the original house, the updated 4 bathroom, 2 car garage poolhouse, and extensive outbuildings is $826,280. $826,280 in – according to the Auditor’s records – very good condition.
John Barrett’s a classy guy. I know this from living in his business neighborhood where everything about the Western & Southern properties is always first class. His improvements have obviously been in this same category.
Reason #3: Land Value is lower than the rest of the neighborhood
Regardless of CAUV designation, the value of the land prior to the reduction for the agricultural designation should be pretty straight forward. 9300 Shawnee Run shows 18.905 acres values at $1,755,880 or $92,879 per acre.
The land at 9420 Shawnee Run (owned by Shawnee Run Farms LLC, established by John Barrett) shows 69.981 acres at $4,026,230 or $57,533 an acre before the timber reduction.
Neighboring properties have higher valuations:
9375 Shawnee Run sits on 7.573 acres valued at $861,790 or $113,797 an acre.
9435 Shawnee Run sits on 5.605 acres valued at $812,520 or $144,963 an acre.
Why is there such a wide variation on land value on properties on the same street in the same block?
Reason #4: Comparable properties on the market currently
There aren’t a lot of properties for sale in this part of Shawnee Run at the present time, but there is one nearby home currently listed that might be helpful in establishing some kind of benchmark. 9005 Shawnee Run with 4,652 finished square feet, 11 rooms, 5 bedrooms, 6 baths, 2 half baths, 3 fireplaces, a pool, on 5.467 acres is on the market for $3,695,000. Not a perfect comparison by any means, this house is new construction finished just a couple years ago, but is on a lot a third the size of Mr. Barrett’s with none of the outbuildings and the house itself is significantly smaller.
This is a premier Indian Hill property befitting one of the most sucessful business leaders in Cincinnati. It is the privacy afforded by the size of the parcel that makes this property particularly unique. Estates of this type usually sell in a range of $3,000,000-$6,000,000. The Barrett property is certainly in the top tier of homes in the entire city.
The 2014 update of the appraisal the value of the property remained unchanged. Of course the value of this property was lowered by the Board of Revision in 2001 around the same time the Western & Southern commercial properties were challenged. Value at that time was $2,145,900. Value requested, $1,471,400. Value awarded: $1,475,000 (all prior to major improvements).