FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - Real estate experts anticipate record numbers in appeals against property tax assessments, after Fulton County released homeowners' estimates over the Memorial Day weekend, garnering outrage and panic from plenty.
Experts advise homeowners to heavily beef up the appeal they submit to the Board of Assessors, to better back your concerns over the estimated value of your home. Homeowners have 45 days to appeal their tax assessments to Fulton County.
"If we don't fight, we can't pay this...we're going to have to sell our house," said concerned homeowner Amber Brannon, who planned on living in her Cabbagetown home for good; her assessment has her worried she could be priced out of her neighborhood, after her statement in the mail told her she could possibly pay $8,713 for 2018.
Brannon's statement from Fulton County estimated her home at $648,000, when last year's fair market value was $295,700.
She's baffled how the county came up with those numbers. "All around us [are homes] that are bigger... and they're all way under the 648 [thousand]," Brannon said, who had been through the appeal process once before, and won.
Property tax consultant Andy Goldstein advises people to submit a detailed-as-possible appeal with plenty of documents attached.
"Most homeowners want to appeal on the grounds of value and uniformity," Goldstein said.
He suggests to add as many photos as possible showing issues with your home that devalue the property, or issues with the neighborhood.
"If you live next to a landfill. Flooding basements. Serious structural issues. If you have any estimates of what it costs to [fix]," he said.
Your appeal should also include "comparables": what are similar homes in your neighborhood selling for? What are their values? You should also research renovations that may drive up the values of other homes, but shouldn't drive up yours.
"If you're being compared to a house that has been totally renovated, they shouldn't be valued the same," he said.
Goldstein advises most people, even if you win the appeal, to bring the case before the Board of Equalization; only that measure will guarantee that your rate will be locked in for three years. If you don't appear before the board, your rate will apply for just one year.