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MELLON BANK (EAST) NATIONAL ASSOCIATION v. PENNSYLVANIA RESTAURANT A.B.E. (07/10/87)

filed: July 10, 1987.

MELLON BANK (EAST) NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, APPELLANT
v.
PENNSYLVANIA RESTAURANT OF A.B.E., INC., AND JAMES L. LONG AND MARILYN J. LONG HIS WIFE AND DANIEL RUOTOLO AND BEVERLY M. RUOTOLO



Appeal from the Order entered October 10, 1986 in the Court of Common PLeas of Lehigh County, Civil Division, at No. 85-N-552.

COUNSEL

Richard H. Martin, Blue Bell, for appellant.

Olszewski, Del Sole and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Del Sole

[ 364 Pa. Super. Page 569]

This is an appeal from a trial court order which established that the fair market value of certain premise was $300,000.00. The trial court order was issued following a hearing and in response to Appellant's petition pursuant to the Deficiency Judgment Act, 42 Pa.C.S. ยง 8103 et seq.

Three issues are raised by Appellant on appeal. We are asked to consider whether there is sufficient evidence to support the trial court' valuation of the premises, whether the court erred in admitting the opinion testimony of real estate broker, John J. Breedy, and whether the court erred in restricting the cross-examination of a party-witness. Because after reviewing the record in light of these questions we perceive no error, we affirm the trial court order.

At the hearing held to receive evidence relative to the fair marked value of the subject premises, Appellant presented one witness, an appraisor, Mr. Moore. Appellees also had an appraisor, Mr. Breedy, testify in addition to Mrs. McGough, the Director of Finance of the Allentown Economic Development Corporation and James Long, a named respondent in the petition. The subject property consisted of real estate upon which was built a structure used in the past as a restaurant, and a parking lot. Mr. Moore, the

[ 364 Pa. Super. Page 570]

    appraisor testifying on behalf of Appellant, valued the property at $225,000.00, while Mr. Breedy opined that the fair market value was $300,000.00. Appellant maintains the court erred in accepting Mr. Breedy's valuation since his appraisal was made more remote in time to the hearing than was Mr. Moore's and because he was not as experienced in this area of appraisals as was Mr. Moore.

The weight to be given to expert testimony on valuation of land is for the trier of fact. Tinicum Real Estate Holding Corp. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation, 480 Pa. 220, 389 A.2d 1034 (1978). It is within the province of the trier of fact to weigh the credibility of valuation witnesses' testimony and to determine the fair value of the land. Redevelopment Authority of City of Philadelphia v. Cohen, 31 Pa. Commw. 173, 375 A.2d 881 (1977). Further, the Superior Court must accept findings of the trial court with respect to credibility of witnesses. Kembel v. Schlegel, 329 Pa. Super. 159, 478 A.2d 11 (1984).

The trial court herein clearly relied on the testimony of Mr. Breedy in reaching its conclusion as to the value of the premises. The court recognized that Mr. Breedy's appraisal was made three years earlier for the Allentown Economic Development Corporation and noted that Mr. Breedy's opinion as to the value of the property remained unchanged. The court remarked that Mr. Moore's opinion was based on a more recent appraisal, July of 1986, but also noted that the subject property and parking areas far exceeded the lot size and capacity of the comparable sales upon which Mr. Moore relied in rendering his market data approach appraisal. The court also found noteworthy the fact that unlike Mr. Moore's appraisal, Mr. Breedy's appraisal was not made for the benefit of one of the parties. The trial court therefore judged Mr. Breedy's appraisal to be more reliable since it had an "arm's length nature".

We find no fault with the trial court's acceptance of Mr. Breedy's opinion as to valuation, ...


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