Court not obligated to award deficiency judgment.

Author:Mueller, Scott B.
Position:Cases in Brief - Webster Bank, N.A. v. Frasca

Webster Bank (Bank) foreclosed a mortgage held by defendants and sought a deficiency judgment against the defendants because the subject property appraised at $725,000 against the defendant's $1,425,498 debt. As evidence of the property's value at the hearing on the motion for a deficiency judgment, the Bank submitted a December 2015 appraisal from a residential real estate appraiser in the amount of $725,000. The appraiser used the sales comparison approach, which resulted in a valuation of $725,000 and the cost approach, which resulted in a valuation of $846,421. In the addendum to the report the appraiser noted a property field card that listed a value of $894,144An affidavit that the Bank's appraiser attached to the appraisal report, stated, "[i]t is my professional opinion to a reasonable degree of certainty that the value of the subject property in its present condition is $725,000."

Before the trial court the defendants presented their own expert witness, another residential real estate appraiser, who asserted that the Bank appraiser's report contained significant errors making it "unreliable and inconclusive" and that it did not provide enough evidence for the court to establish the value of the property. He noted that the appraisal report did not include any other antique homes as comparables, included a short-sale home as a comparable, contained significant errors in the square footage calculations of some of the comparables, and lacked discussion explaining how the appraiser arrived at the opinion of value. The trial court concluded that the Bank failed to establish the fair market value by credible and accurate evidence; the Bank appealed.

On appeal, the court noted that it had previously stated:

[a] deficiency proceeding has a very limited purpose.... [T]he court, after hearing the party's appraisers, determines the value of the property and calculates any deficiency. This deficiency judgment procedure presumes the amount of the debt as established by the foreclosure judgment and merely provides for a hearing on the value of the property.... The deficiency hearing concerns the fair market value of the subject property as of the date title vests in the foreclosing plaintiff under [General Statutes] [section] 49-14. [I]mplicit in ... [section] 49-14 is the requirement that the party seeking a deficiency judgment satisfy her burden of proof regarding the fair market value of the property ... in particular, the requirement that the...

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