|Loveland's Independent News Source
|McWhinney Estate –
Lowest Property Taxes On
Loveland - April 27, 2012
Sitting on what is arguably the most desirable + acre of residential real estate in Loveland is Chad McWhinney’s estate at 1545 Lake Circle in
Loveland. It appears to be the cheapest land on Lake Loveland (according to the assessor's records). It is being offered for lease at $5,000
per month. see the listing
Purchased in 2009, the 8,244 square foot residence once described in a real estate listing by The Group as a “Santa Barbara style estate” was
listed for sale in 2009 by its previous owner for $4.5 million. The property boasts 8 bathrooms, 5 bedrooms and 2 offices not to mention
over 300 feet of Lake Loveland shoreline; tennis courts and more garages than most people would have cars to fill. It even has a butler's
house and a heated dog run and indoor lap pool.
McWhinney’s ownership is through the Chad C. McWhinney Family Trust. The same trust also owns McWhinney's property at 926 Logan
Court on Loveland’s north shore of Lake Loveland just behind Loveland High School.
The house on Logan Ct. is of much more modest proportions at just 4,624 square feet and .26 of an acre lot. However, the Logan Court
property, valued at $977,900 by Larimer County, pays over $6,000 in annual property taxes while the taxes owing on the Santa Barbara style
estate also on Lake Loveland with a lot four times as large and house twice the size is only $6,650. Valued by Larimer County at only
$1,082,100, the larger estate has nearly the same value for taxing purposes as the Logan Ct. house so annual property taxes are barely $600
In fact, the ‘Santa Barbara style estate’ really has an estate lot of 1.16 acres on Lake Loveland and is taxed based on an appraised value of
only $3.96 per square foot for the land. McWhinney’s Logan Ct. property is assessed taxes based on an appraised value of over $14 per
square foot for just the land. A random review of the more valuable parcels on Lake Loveland reveals the appraised values for lots alone
average over $8 per square foot making McWhinney’s Santa Barbara estate the lowest annual property tax assessment (when calculated by lot
size) on Lake Loveland. No other lake front property could be found in county records by LovelandPolitics volunteers with a value near or
equal to McWhinney’s Lake Circle property which appears to be more than 50% per square foot lower in land value than all the other lake
front lots we could find to evaluate.
In fact, many of the longer and narrow lots with much lesser percentage of lake frontage just up the street on Garfield (like that owned by
Loveland attorney Richard Ball) are valued by the county assessor at over $5 per square foot. Lake front houses on the opposite shore, West
Shore Drive, have a common land appraisal of $100,000 each resulting in a range of between $8 to $12 per square foot for the land alone not
including the value of the improvements (structures).
Zillow.com, a website that provides approximate computer based appraisals using a rough mass appraising system that calculates square
footage and comparable sales, values McWhinney’s Santa Barbara style estate at nearly $2 million (twice the assessor’s value). Zillows listing
of the property also includes numerous pictures from inside the luxurious high-end estate. see source webpage and interior pictures of the
Possible Explanation For Lower Value
In 2009 LovelandPolitics was approach by a former McWhinney employee who claimed the reported purchase price of the Santa Barbara
style estate was indeed higher than reported. In other words, the Larimer County Assessor may not have an accurate previous sales history
for the property if indeed the source was correct. County records show it sold only once since it was constructed in 1988 by Douglas J.
According to the same Larimer County records, Erion sold Chad McWhinney the estate which had been advertised at over $4 million for a
total consideration of only $1,079,806. Given the fact property values for the purpose of tax assessment look back 18 months, the current
value assigned the property by the Larimer County Assessor of $1,082,100 would appear reasonable if no comparable properties are used in
the county's appraisal.
Compare the $1 million value, however, with a 2,498 square foot home at 1534 West Shore Drive that is currently for sale and it hardly
appears like a reasonable value. The West Shore lot size is only .19 of an acre on Lake Loveland but the property asking price is $1.39 million
for a house built in 1958. See listing The West Shore property sold in 2003 for $819,000, before an extensive remodel in 2008, so one would
conclude the current asking price doesn’t appear unreasonable. In fact, barley bigger than the Santa Barbara estate's butler's quarters the
West Shore property hardly seems comparable and certainly not more valuable by a long shot.
As we reported in 2009, a former senior McWhinney employee reported to LovelandPolitics that Chad McWhinney also provided Erion with
stock in the 2009 transaction for the Santa Barbara style estate which was not recorded with the county as part of the sales price. When
asked for some evidence, the source decided not to pursue the matter and failed to provide any further information. Because failure to fully
report all consideration from a real estate transaction could constitute a crime, it is important LovelandPolitics clarify that beyond the
accusation by one former employee we have no other information about the sales transaction indicating this is what happened. However, it is
certainly reasonable to speculate when an immaculate property in excellent condition sells for 1/4 the asking price that maybe someone failed
to properly report the full sales amount.
Under-reporting of consideration from a real estate transaction is not a common problem as most people take out loans to buy property and
could not easily conceal the real purchase price. Cash buyers, on the other hand, may be few but sometimes prefer to keep some amount of
the transaction "under the table." This may help to artificially reduce the property's future value (especially for rare properties where there are
no comparables so the assessor relies heavily on sales history) and when the seller is trying to avoid paying capital gains tax on the full sales
The advantage to a buyer who fails to report the full sales value is potentially a lower appraisal thus lower property taxes in perpetuity. If
indeed McWhinney's estate on Lake Loveland was bought for $500,000 below the asking price of $4.5 million, the annual taxes would still be
$26,660 instead of $6,650 annually. That difference would in 5 years amount to $133,000 in property taxes instead of only some $33,000
over same period.
Unlike Zillow.com, Larimer County appears to assign a constant value to lots on Lake Loveland by subdivision. This means lots along Logan
Ct., while of varying sizes, are provided a value of $160,000 each. The Lake Loveland lots on Garfield Ave. appear to all be $144,000 while
those across the lake on West Shore reviewed by LovelandPolitics are mostly all $100,000 despite being of varying sizes. This would indicate
a "one size fits all" approach to lake properties by the county that doesn't consider the varying types of lots and natural features of the
Because McWhinney’s Lake Circle estate lot is 3 to 4 times larger than the others mentioned above, the annual taxes paid per square foot for
lake front property is only a fraction of that paid by other property owners since his estate lot is comparably valued. As a result, McWhinney
pays an order of magnitude higher tax rate for his lot on Logan Court ($14 per square foot) than the estate on Lake Circle ($3.96). In fact, it
appears by our research that McWhinney may be the only Lake Loveland property owner whose lake front land is valued at less than $4 per
square foot. Given the variety of lot shapes, access and lake frontage it is certainly notable that perhaps the nicest and most beautifully
landscaped lot appears to be valued least when compared by size with all the others.
Comparing Lake Loveland Properties
All Properties Below Have Lake Access - Only the Land size and value is listed
Address Street lot sq. ft. Value Per/ Sq. Ft.
1402 Lake Cir. 14,684 $110,000 $7.49
1545 Lake Cir. 50,530 $200,000 $3.96
962 Logan 18,605 $160,000 $8.60
950 Logan 14,297 $160,000 $11.19
986 Logan 19,652 $160,000 $8.14
914 Logan 23,590 $160,000 $6.78
1522 West Shore 11,220 $100,000 $8.91
1534 West Shore 8,288 $100,000 $12.07
1105 West Shore 11,296 $100,000 $8.85
926 Logan 11,387 $160,000 $14.05
1801 Garfield 30,279 $144,000 $4.76
1805 Garfield 25,865 $144,000 $5.57
1819 Garfield 27,053 $144,000 $5.32