Attorney: How to appeal sky-high Fulton property assessments

- As the sticker shock over the latest Fulton County property assessments hits numerous homeowners over Memorial Day weekend, plenty are asking how to appeal--  and how they can even win.

 "Everyone that opened up their mail and saw their taxes go up by this much-- they're not just going to sit by and do nothing,"  said homeowner Jordan Warren, who got a notice yesterday that Fulton County estimates his property taxes will increase from $1,600 last year to almost $6,600.

Warren is one of many homeowners that now plan to appeal, as residents across Fulton County are getting their latest property tax assessments this week in the mail. 

"Appeal, appeal, appeal," said David Barrett, a long-time real estate closing attorney with The Fryer Law Firm who has taught a class for decades for real estate agents, in order to help their own clients appeal property tax assessments to the Board of Equalization. 

STEP 1: APPEAL - You have 45 days to appeal your notice. Homeowners can appeal and upload appropriate documents on fultonassessor.org, but Barrett advises homeowners to go in person to the Fulton County Board of Assessors and get the appeal stamped. 

STEP 2: "DO YOUR HOMEWORK," said Barrett, who tells FOX 5 that homeowners should look up their property on the assessor's website, then click on "Recent Sales in Neighborhood" to find how much similar homes to yours (you can even search by square footage and price) sold in 2017.

"Pull properties out, and point out the differences of that property to your property when you go before the appeal board," Barrett said, warning homeowners that dissimilar homes with very different prices could factor into your assessment with what Fulton County uses to determine the numbers. 

The computer program is called a Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA), Barrett said. "It's taken some things of those neighbors that don't necessarily affect your property, and have increased your property," Barrett said.  

Barrett also suggests homeowners should consult their realtors for information on 2017 sales in their neighborhood and information on homes that may not yet be on public records. 

STEP 3: OBTAIN THE BREAKDOWN OF YOUR ASSESSMENT -  Barrett said you can request the itemized breakdown of the determining factors of your assessment from the contact listed on your appeal notice.

 "It's very hard to get, but keep insisting on that," Barrett said. 

STEP 4: FOLLOW THROUGH WITH YOUR APPEAL - Barrett suggests to keep fighting your appeal, even if it escalates to Fulton County Superior Court. Homeowners can also hire a property tax attorney to navigate through the process. 

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