There were 430 foreclosures in Sandy Springs in 2011, and a total of 7,600 in Fulton County. That's an estimated value lost of $300 million to $500 million and a drain on the local tax digest.
David Fitzgibbon, chief appraiser for the Fulton County Board of Assessors, gave a North Fulton Mayor and City Council the rundown on how this year's work on setting fair market values–and the appeals that property owners file–is going.
Did you know that you can file an appeal of your assessment online? Fitzgibbon said it is a very simple process that saves the property owner a lot of time and money by not having to have copies of documents, and saves staff time so the appeals' process can move much quicker.
His staff expects the appeals process will drop. Last year, 38,000 appeals took 250 days. Staff expects appeals to be completed within 180 days, but he's not so confident until they learn how many property owners actually appeal.
"I will say that this year we have only received at this point under 3,000 appeals. At this point last year, we received 17,000 appeals," said Fitzgibbbon, during at talk to the Milton Mayor and City Council, Monday.
Property owners can set up an appointment for a face-to-face meeting with an appraiser, or a phone call to make their case for an appeal, or just let the appeal form speak for them.
Milton's tax digest may grow as much as $70 million for the current year, Fitzgibbon said. Great property values helped attract many residents to Milton, and that continues to bear out even in a down economy. Fitzgibbon said Fulton County had approximately 26,800 parcels that increased in value from 2011 to 2012.
"The majority of those were in more affluent areas. Milton, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta and Johns Creek had most of those increase," he said.
Fulton County's total tax digest had a decrease of 3.5 percent.
Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood said city residents have told him home values are going up though they are not selling at the value set by the county.
Fitzgibbon responded that the county doesn't increase or decrease property values, they set the fair market value, what they feel a property would sell for on Jan. 1 of this year.
In one small area, they recorded homes that were averaging $800,000 selling at an average of $1.2 million in 2012.
"There are people buying property. Inventories are down," he said.
Another small neighborhood of 50 properties had five homes with what appeared to be very good sales, so the values were raised based on those sales. Fitzgibbon said While they did account for the homes being lake homes, they failed to account for all factors.
"We made an error in what we call quality value of the house," he said, so the property owners were sent new notices and there appeal deadlines extended another 45 days from that date.
Councilman Burt Hewitt asked about that appeal timeline.
Fitzgibbon said property owners have 45 days from the time of the notice. The last day for the majority of property owners to appeal is June 28.
The appeals process is much easier now, with property owners able to search for sales in their neighborhood, by a taxing district, sales by square footage or other criteria. And then they can export that data to a spreadsheet. That information is available as a basis for an appeal.
Fitzgibbon said of the total taxable property in the county–approximately 334,000 parcels–7.6 percent were distressed sales, including foreclosures.
Fulton Commercial & Residential Property
- 153,000 decreased in value
- 149,000 stayed the same
- 26,000 saw an increase
Adrianne Murchison contributed to this story.