Insights

In brief

The Land Court's decision in Aria Securities Pty Ltd as TTE v Valuer-General [2018] QLC 2 concerned an appeal against the Valuer-General's value of the Appellant's land located on the corner of Merivale and Peel Streets in South Brisbane.
 
The Valuer-General initially valued the land at $30,000,000. The value was reduced after objection to $23,000,000. The Appellant appealed that decision to the Court. The Appellant contended that the correct valuation of the subject land should be revised to $20,800,000.
 
The subject land is included within a Principal Centre under the Strategic Framework and the High Density Mixed-Use Zone under the Brisbane City Plan 2014. The Court was satisfied that a block of land of its size (2,738m²) in this zone can be developed to a maximum building height of 30 storeys with a maximum site cover of 80%. The Appellant's valuer and the Valuer-General's valuer provided a joint report to the Court where they considered three comparable sales.
 
The Court found that the valuer for the Appellant used the wrong valuation method. The Court determined that the Appellant's valuer "contaminated the process" by considering the applied value in order to reach the valuation. The Court considered this to be a "fundamental error" (see paragraph [22]), where "no reliable conclusion on valuation could be safely drawn from the valuation evidence [provided by the Appellant]" (see paragraph [40]).
 
The Court dismissed the appeal and confirmed the valuation contended for by the Valuer-General because the Appellant failed to prove a more appropriate value.

Highest and best use of the land

The Valuer-General contented that the value of the subject land was $23,000,000 whereas the Appellant contended that the value of the subject land was $20,800,000. There was no dispute in relation to the highest and best use of the land. Both the Valuer-General's valuer and the Appellant's valuer agreed that the highest and best use of the land would be for a 30-storey development with "public open space and design excellence" (see paragraph [3]).

Agreed valuation method

Both valuers agreed to value the subject land by comparing the land, on a rate per square metre basis, with vacant or lightly improved sales of land in fee simple with existing use rights and allowing for any encumbrances (see paragraph [12]). The valuers analysed three comparable sales. They arrived at the same values except sale one.
 
The comparable sales were as follows:
  • Sale One – the Valuer-General's valuer valued the land at $19,821,047 whilst the Appellant's valuer valued it at $18,728,561, being a $1,092,486 difference between the two;
  • Sale Two – the Valuer-General's valuer and the Appellant's valuer both valued the land at $21,322,338; and
  • Sale Three – the Valuer-General's valuer and the Appellant's valuer both valued the land at $22,061,439.

Dispute regarding Sale One

The Appellant's valuer admitted under cross-examination that, in order to reach his valuation, he considered the applied site value being the reduced valuation arrived at following objection and arrived at in another process. This method was not the method that the two valuers agreed to use in their joint report. The Court held that the Appellant's valuation method was not acceptable as the Appellant's valuer did not value the land in the agreed way and "contaminated" the process by considering the applied value of the site (paragraph [22] and [23]).

The Court's preferred valuation method

The Court referred to a number of cases in which the correct valuation method was used. The Court referred in particular to the following relevant principles from the cases:  
  1. Thomson v Department of Natural Resources and Mines [2007] QLC 92 at [7] - "The question before the Court is the correct valuation of the subject land, not the correct valuation of an area".
  2. Bignell v Chief Executive Department of Lands (AV92-65 unreported Land Appeal Court 4 March 1996) at [11] - "What is to be decided…is the proper value of the subject land by reference to sales evidence about comparable unimproved properties".
  3. Musumeci v Valuer-General (2014) 35 QLCR 185 - "It has long been recognised that it is desirable that valuations of comparable lands made for the purposes of the Act should bear proper relativity to one another, provided the valuations are soundly based".
  4. NR and PG Tow v Valuer-General (1978) 5 QLCR 378 at [381] - "Courts of the highest authority have laid down that the best value is to be found in the sales of comparable properties, preferably unimproved, on the open market around about the relevant date of valuation and between prudent and willing, but not over anxious parties".

Court confirms value contended for by Valuer-General

The Court found that the Appellant's valuer did not use an acceptable or reliable method to value the land. The Court noted that the Appellant's valuer did not use the method agreed to in the joint report with the Valuer-General's valuer. The Court decided that it was not acceptable to depart from the agreed method and blend the applied value with the valuation derived from the analysis of the comparable sales. The Court held that the method utilised by the Appellant's valuer was unreliable and departed from the valuation method accepted by the Court.
 
The Valuer-General's valuer did not use the applied site values of the three sales and the Court was therefore happy to rely on these values.

Decision

The Court confirmed the value contended for by the Valuer-General's, being $23,000,000, as no reliable alternative valuation could be drawn from the Appellant's valuation evidence. The appeal was dismissed.

This article has been published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for information and education purposes only and is a general summary of the topic(s) presented. This article is not specific legal advice. Please seek your own legal advice for any questions you may have. All information contained in this article is subject to change. Colin Biggers & Paisley cannot be held responsible for any liability whatsoever, or for any loss howsoever arising from any reliance upon the contents of this article.​

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