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Death and taxes are inevitable, and sometimes it feels that they are joined –when it feels as if taxes will be the death of us.  Many of us panicked when receiving Fulton County property tax assessments this year – and for good reason.  Across the board, property assessments were raised significantly, causing much consternation.
If you live in Cobb, Dekalb, Gwinnett, or some county other than Fulton, this issue should still be of interest to you.  Since the economic recovery is in full swing in the real estate market across Metro Atlanta, it is quite likely that your bill has gone up also – so stay tuned for tips on how to fight that. In Fulton, relief came from the government – the county commission voted to freeze assess property values at last year’s level.
“Today’s vote was not just a monetary or fiscal matter. It was a moral issue,” said commission Chairman John Eaves, quoted in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. “Our vote will allow all people – regardless of their zip code – to keep their homes by giving them time to adjust to rising property values over time.” 

While the biggest concern appeared to be the gentrifying neighborhoods in Southeast Fulton, where the property tax increases might have forced some long time residents out of their homes, the freeze helps everyone in the county.

So presumably if you live in Fulton County, you are fine for this year – but if you’re not, or if you live in another county and your taxes have gone up significantly, here is a step by step guide on what to do:

​1. ​Follow the directions on your property tax notice on how to appeal, and follow the directions to the letter (it varies by county).  If you did not get a notice, check online for your tax and the procedure to appeal. 
​2. Gather evidence supporting the lower price you feel that your property is “really” worth.   Best evidence will be lower sales that have taken place near your house in the last year (only the last year is considered relevant for this purpose).  You can get this information from the tax records, or you can contact us for help in gathering “comps” (comparable property sales). 
3. File your challenge.  If you are successful, your taxes will be frozen for some amount of time (in Fulton, three years) meaning that you won’t have to file a challenge each and every year. 
Sometimes clients ask us if they SHOULD file a challenge.  After all, when you go to sell isn’t a higher valuation better?  Know that while prospective buyers will check the tax records, the tax records are a notoriously unreliable prediction of value and most good agents will advise their clients of this; a low property tax valuation should not hurt if at the time you sell your home is worth more.  Therefore, I would not suggest that you avoid challenging an unreasonable assessment for this reason.
So, “FREEZE” is a great thing to hear.  Especially in the summer months.  Know that year round, our team is always available to help you with your real estate needs.  Never hesitate to call us for help!