B-213583, OCT 31, 1983

B-213583: Oct 31, 1983

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PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL: WE ARE FORWARDING THE MATTER OF MR. ADAMS WAS TRANSFERRED FROM MISSOULA. ALTHOUGH A FEW OFFERS WERE RECEIVED DURING THIS PERIOD. INCURRED CERTAIN EXPENSES OR BECAME OBLIGATED THEREON IN CONNECTION WITH THE PURCHASE OR SALE OF A RESIDENCE WHICH WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN REIMBURSABLE ....". THE MATTER IS SUBMITTED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. IS NOT A REIMBURSABLE REAL ESTATE EXPENSE. SINCE THE HOME AT THE OLD DUTY STATION WAS NEVER SOLD. THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL HAS REPEATEDLY HELD THAT THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF THE HOME MUST BE COMPLETED BEFORE THE EMPLOYEE IS ENTITLED TO REAL ESTATE EXPENSES. THIS RULE APPLIES EVEN THOUGH FAILURE TO SELL IS THE RESULT OF POOR MARKET CONDITIONS.

B-213583, OCT 31, 1983

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL:

WE ARE FORWARDING THE MATTER OF MR. JAMES D. ADAMS, DECEASED, CONCERNING REIMBURSEMENT OF BENEFICIARY FOR REAL ESTATE EXPENSES ASSOCIATED WITH HIS CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FOREST SERVICE.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT MR. ADAMS WAS TRANSFERRED FROM MISSOULA, MONTANA, TO JUNEAU, ALASKA, UNDER TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. 10.01.81223, DATED MARCH 23, 1981, WITH A REPORTING DATE OF APPROXIMATELY JULY 10, 1981. CONNECTION WITH HIS TRANSFER HE SIGNED A STANDARD FORM LISTING CONTRACT ON MARCH 10, 1981, TO SELL HIS RESIDENCE IN MISSOULA. THE LISTING AGREEMENT CONTINUED IN EFFECT THROUGH AUGUST 27, 1981. ALTHOUGH A FEW OFFERS WERE RECEIVED DURING THIS PERIOD, NONE OF THE OFFERS RESULTED IN A SALE. SUBSEQUENTLY, MR. ADAMS CONTINUED HIS EFFORTS TO SELL HIS RESIDENCE UP UNTIL THE TIME OF HIS DEATH.

MR. ADAMS INCURRED EXPENSES FOR AN APPRAISAL FEE OF $118 FOR WHICH THE MATTER HAS BEEN REFERRED HERE BY THE FOREST SERVICE AS A DOUBTFUL CLAIM. IN SUBMITTING THE CLAIM, THE FOREST SERVICE HAS RELIED ON COMPTROLLER GENERAL DECISION B-162458, OCTOBER 2, 1967, AS ALLOWING THE CLAIM. THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF THIS DECISION STATES: "THUS, IT MAY BE THAT REIMBURSEMENT WOULD BE PROPER IF A TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEE PRIOR TO HIS DEATH ... INCURRED CERTAIN EXPENSES OR BECAME OBLIGATED THEREON IN CONNECTION WITH THE PURCHASE OR SALE OF A RESIDENCE WHICH WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN REIMBURSABLE ...." THE DECISION ALSO STATES:"ANY ACTUAL CASE OF THIS NATURE SHOULD BE SUBMITTED HERE FOR SEPARATE CONSIDERATION."

HOWEVER, COMPTROLLER GENERAL DECISION B-187848, AUGUST 23, 1977, RULES THAT WHERE AN EMPLOYEE HAD A RESIDENCE APPRAISED TO SET A SELLING PRICE AND THEN DID NOT SELL DUE TO MARKET CONDITIONS, HE WOULD NOT BE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT.

IN VIEW OF MR. ADAMS DEATH AND THE FACT THAT THE RESIDENCE DID NOT SELL BECAUSE OF MARKET CONDITIONS, THE MATTER IS SUBMITTED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION.

INDORSEMENT B-213583 OM, FEB 10, 1984

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, CLAIMS GROUP (ROOM 5858).

RETURNED. THE APPRAISAL FEE INCURRED BY JAMES D. ADAMS, DECEASED, IS NOT A REIMBURSABLE REAL ESTATE EXPENSE, SINCE THE HOME AT THE OLD DUTY STATION WAS NEVER SOLD.

THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL HAS REPEATEDLY HELD THAT THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF THE HOME MUST BE COMPLETED BEFORE THE EMPLOYEE IS ENTITLED TO REAL ESTATE EXPENSES. MATTER OF FOOTE, B-210566, MARCH 22, 1983. THIS RULE APPLIES EVEN THOUGH FAILURE TO SELL IS THE RESULT OF POOR MARKET CONDITIONS. MATTER OF PUPO, B-187848, AUGUST 23, 1977. THE NATIONAL FINANCE CENTER, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, HAS INFORMALLY ADVISED THAT ALTHOUGH MR. ADAMS COMPLETED HIS TRANSFER BEFORE HIS DEATH, HIS FAMILY MEMBERS DECIDED NOT TO SELL THE HOME AFTER HE DIED AND CONTINUE TO OCCUPY IT.

NO EXCEPTION TO THE RULE ARISES WHERE, AS IN THE PRESENT CASE, THE EMPLOYEE DIES BEFORE THE SALE OF THE HOME. THE SURVIVORS OF THE TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEE ARE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF REAL ESTATE EXPENSES ONLY IF THE EXPENSES WOULD HAVE BEEN REIMBURSABLE HAD THE EMPLOYEE LIVED. MATTER OF GERARD WIJSMULLER, B-183389, NOVEMBER 24, 1975; B-177996 OM, JUNE 4, 1973. AS DISCUSSED ABOVE, MR. ADAMS WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT HAD HE LIVED, SINCE THE HOME HAS NEVER BEEN SOLD AND HIS FAMILY MEMBERS CONTINUE TO LIVE THERE.

CONSEQUENTLY REAL ESTATE EXPENSES ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE TO THE SURVIVORS OR THE ESTATE OF MR. ADAMS.