CACI 3517 Comparable Sales (Evid. Code, § 816)

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

3517 Comparable Sales (Evid. Code, § 816)

To assist you in determining the fair market value of the property, you have heard evidence of comparable sales. It is up to you to decide the importance of this evidence in determining the fair market value.

Directions for Use

Use this instruction if the court has allowed evidence of comparable sales to be presented to the jury.

Sources and Authority

Comparable Sales. Evidence Code section 816.

“[T]he essence of comparability is recent and local sales ‘sufficiently alike in respect to character, size, situation, usability, and improvements’ so that the price ‘may fairly be considered as shedding light’ on the value of the condemned property. … After the trial court resolves this preliminary legal question, it is then ultimately for the jury to determine the extent to which the other property is in fact comparable.” (County of Glenn v. Foley (2012) 212 Cal.App.4th 393, 401 [151 Cal.Rptr.3d 8], original italics, internal citations omitted.)

“This whole ‘shedding light on value’ standard is nothing more than a restatement of the general rule for the introduction of circumstantial evidence, which is admissible if relevant, ‘i.e., if it can provide any rational inference in support of the issue.’ ” (County of Glenn, supra, 212 Cal.App.4th at p. 402, original italics, footnote omitted.)

“[No] general rule can be laid down regarding the degree of similarity that must exist to make [comparable sales] evidence admissible. It must necessarily vary with the circumstances of each particular case. Whether the properties are sufficiently similar to have some bearing on the value under consideration, and to be of any aid to the jury, must necessarily rest largely in the sound discretion of the trial court, which will not be interfered with unless abused.” (Merced Irrigation Dist. v. Woolstenhulme (1971) 4 Cal.3d 478, 500 [93 Cal.Rptr. 833, 483 P.2d 1].)

“The trial judge’s prima facie determination that a sale is sufficiently ‘comparable’ to be admitted into evidence has never been thought to foreclose the question of ‘comparability’ altogether. ‘[If] at the discretion of the court, such [sales] are admissible on the grounds of comparability, the degree of comparability is a question of fact for the jury.’ ” (County of San Luis Obispo v. Bailey (1971) 4 Cal.3d 518, 525 [93 Cal.Rptr. 859, 483 P.2d 27].)

“We have never declared properties noncomparable per se merely because they differ in size or shape. On the contrary, the trial court’s obligation, pursuant to section 816, is to determine whether the sale price of one property could shed light upon the value of the condemned property, notwithstanding any differences that might exist between them. If it resolves that question affirmatively, it can admit the evidence. The jury then, on the basis of all the evidence, determines the extent to which any differences between the condemned property and the comparable property affect their relative values.” (Los Angeles v. Retlaw Enterprises, Inc. (1976) 16 Cal.3d 473, 482 [128 Cal.Rptr. 436, 546 P.2d 1380], original italics.)

Secondary Sources

8 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017), Constitutional Law §§ 1372, 1385
1 Witkin, California Evidence (5th ed. 2012) Opinion Evidence, § 108
14 California Real Estate Law and Practice, Ch. 508, Evidence: General, § 508.11 (Matthew Bender)
Cotchett, California Courtroom Evidence, Ch. 17, Nonexpert and Expert Opinion, 17.14 (Matthew Bender)
20 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 247, Eminent Domain and Inverse Condemnation, § 247.147 (Matthew Bender)