The Income Approach to Value In Real Estate Taxation

In In re Appeal of V.V.P. P'ship, 167 Pa. Commw. 282, 647 A.2d 990 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1994) the Court noted that "the income approach calculates the value of income-producing property by capitalizing the property's annual net income." Id. at 991, n.1. "Net income is derived by deducting the property's actual annual expenses from the year's gross income." Id. In V.V.P., the taxpayer operated a tennis, racquetball and squash facility located on a 1.78-acre lot in Springfield Township, Delaware County. The taxing authorities, relying on a combined income and sales comparison approach, appraised the fair market value of the property at $ 800,000.00. The taxpayer, relying primarily on an income approach, valued the fair market value of the property between $ 330,000.00 and $ 420,000.00. The court of common pleas in V.V.P. found the taxpayer's income approach, which determined that the business's operating expenses were 68.78% of gross income, to be more accurate than the taxing authorities' income-based valuation, which estimated that the business's operating expenses were only 15.05% of gross income. The court of common pleas further noted that the taxing authorities' comparable sales approach "was based on a comparison of four properties that were not located in Delaware County and were significantly larger than the subject property." Id. at 992. As a result, the court valued the property at $ 400,000.00. In V.V.P., the Court determined that the income approach was "the most appropriate method for appraising a property typically purchased as an investment, such as the tennis club, because such a property is valued by a purchaser for its ability to produce income." Id. at 992-993. Furthermore, we recognized that the income figure used by the taxpayer's appraiser calculated the income derived from the rental of tennis, racquetball and squash courts minus actual expenses, i.e., income generated by rental of the property itself. In rejecting the taxing authorities' argument that the taxpayer's income approach was essentially a "value-in-use" method like the one rejected in F & M Schaeffer, we noted that the taxpayer's appraiser's use of the income approach "did not place a value on the property significant only to the current owner, but that it valued the property to any owner, since the property would only be purchased for its ability to produce income." Id. at 993. The Court determined in V.V.P. that given the unique circumstances surrounding the property, including its limited capacity, nonconforming use status and its high risk as a potential investment, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in relying on the taxpayer's income approach to valuation.