Tax assessments for 2022 have been mailed to homeowners. Pricing surged in 2020 and 2021. In Cobb County, the average yearly sales price increased from $345,000 in 2020 to $396,000 in 2021. That’s a $50,000 increase in 1 year. You’ve probably gotten calls from clients alarmed at the increases in the assessments.
This is a perfect opportunity to let your clients (or your whole database) know that you can help them through the process of understanding the tax bill, determining if the assessment is reasonable and, if it is not, help them through the appeals process.
You’ll earn some well-deserved points for customer service. When people are ready to buy or sell, they’ll think of agents that have gone above and beyond for them.
Consider making this a yearly service. Make appointments. Get face to face. If an appeal is successful, it’s good for the current year plus 2 years, so you’ll have a good reason to call in 2026, too.
The process of appealing a property assessment is fairly easy. You can walk clients through the initial process of submitting an appeal. The comparable properties are generally already on the county website and auto-populate the forms. You just help the homeowner choose which properties to use as comps. Even if the decision is that the assessment is fair and no appeal needs to be filed, you have performed a valuable service and you’ll be remembered for it!
Tax Assessments are sent in May or June and the Tax Bill is sent in August. Any appeals to the property assessment must be submitted within 45 days of the date shown on the assessment. If an appeal is filed late, the original tax assessment is final.
Although there may be some differences, most counties in Georgia follow the same procedures of assessment, appeal and billing. Tax bills are based on the Fair Market Value (FMV) of the property. The tax assessment is 40% of the FMV. The assessment multiplied by the millage rate yields the tax bill. Millage rates are determined county by county.
If the millage rate goes up and the FMV stays the same, the tax bill will increase. If both the FMV goes up and the millage rate goes up, the tax bill will increase even more.
Homeowners do not have any power to change the millage rate. It is set by the Board of Tax Commissioners in each county. However, if a homeowner has received an assessment that is believed to be high, it can be appealed. The question is: Could I sell my house for the assessed value?
Property Tax Relief Grant
As an aside, there has been some tax relief in 2023. The Property Tax Relief Grant was signed in March, 2023 giving homeowners an $18,000 reduction on assessed values of homesteads. There is nothing the consumer needs to do so long as the property is a homestead. The one time relief grant has to be approved every year so it would have to be passed again for future years. Good to know and good to tell your clients.
How to Appeal an Annual Notice of Assessment
The number of days to file an appeal of an annual assessment in Georgia is within 45 days of the date located in the upper right-hand corner of the assessment notice.
Most counties in Georgia has an on-line appeal process. Appeals can also be mailed or personally delivered.
Grounds for appealing a valuation are:
What Reduction Can (Should) Be Requested?
Of course, if comparable sales show an over-assessment, it is the homeowner’s right to ask for a reduction of the amount of the over assessment. If it is a large difference, it may take more time and consideration. It is said by some that requesting a small reduction of 3-5% of the assessment will likely be more successful. Even though winning an appeal of a smaller reduction may not seem like much, a successful appeal is locked in (by law) for the current year and for the next 2 years. If there are more market surges, that locked in value may be worth a lot more 2 years into the future.
If homeowners have a recent professional appraisal that is lower than the county’s assessment, they don’t need to go through the comparable process. The appraisal can be sent without comparable properties (the appraisal already has them). The homeowner will most likely get a reduction to the appraisal amount without further process.
Gwinnett County is typical. This is their process:
When an appeal is received the appraisal staff will review the appeal. An
Amended Notice of Assessment can be accepted or rejected. The homeowner has 30 days from the date on the notice to reject the amended value and continue the appeal to the Board of Equalization, then to a settlement conference. The last step is a formal hearing.
For more information, go to the tax assessor’s website for the county you need. And start contacting your database. The clock is ticking.
Note: Cheryl King, closing attorney with Thomas and Brown, also wrote a newsletter on Tax Appeals with additional details To read her newsletter and access her residential real estate SmartStips.com, click https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/appealing-property-taxes-georgia-cheryl-conner-king/.
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