Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How To Appeal Your DeKalb County Property Value Assessment by Stan & Nancy Jester who are also hosting a Dunwoody public meeting on July 1st.

DeKalb County School Commissioner Nancy Jester will be hosting a public meeting on Wednesday July 1st at Dunwoody City Hall to discuss the procedure for appealing your property value assessment. I am guessing that she will be joined by her husband and DeKalb County School Board Member Stan Jester as he posted instructions on the appeal process on his FactChecker Stan Jester blog.

How To Appeal Your DeKalb County Property Value Assessment
Wednesday 1 July, 2015 7.00pm - 8.30pm
Dunwoody City Hall 41 Perimeter Center East, Dunwoody, GA 30346


(Note: By reading this blog, you agree this site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney.)

Rising property values have created a windfall in tax collections.  School tax assessments are based on the full appraised value and are not subject to the assessment freeze that limits the value upon which the county and cities can levy taxes.  So, any increase in your assessed value will translate into increased school taxes but may or may not increase your county/city government taxes.  In addition to feeling the full effect of rising property values through school tax collection, DeKalb has the 2nd highest millage rate in the state at 23.98 mills.

Georgia law requires that all personal property be appraised annually at its fair market value.  The DeKalb County Property Appraisal Department has an automated computer system appraising property values.  When you receive the Annual Assessment Notice, if you do not agree with the Current Year Value, you have 45 days to appeal.  Appeal of Assessment Form.

Before Getting Started
Approach this clinically and understand how the county values your property.  Do your homework and collect documentation.  Understand how the process works and what to expect in your 15 minute BOE hearing.  This should be a relatively painless exercise.

Go to DeKalb County Property Search and check the accuracy of information the County has about your home.  The “Digest Year” is the year you received the Assessment Notice, 2015 in this case.  The Appraisal Year is Jan 1st thru Dec 31st for the year your house is being appraised, 2014 in this case.  When talking about Property Value, that includes the value of your home.

Property owners may appeal based on Uniformity and/or Valuation.  Valuation uses the purchase price of similar homes sold during the Appraisal Year.  Square footage of the house and lot size as well as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms are the key.  Foreclosed homes are valid comps, but the assessors often neglect to include them in the comps.

Your property will be compared to 3 recent “resales” in your area known as Comps.  Use Zillow.com to find the comps in your area that sold during the Appraisal Year.  Selecting “Recently Sold” will display a yellow dot for all the recently sold houses around you.  Be sure to only use homes sold during the Appraisal Year.

Uniformity compares the assessed value of the property to the assessed value of other properties in the same neighborhood.  Calculate the price per square foot for all the houses around you in your neighborhood.  Get the average and compare that to the price per square foot of your house.  Note the lot size could affect the final assessed value.

Write a letter explaining why you are appealing your appraisal.  Like a court case, include exhibits with facts, figures and pictures.  Label the exhibits and refer to them in your letter.  The more documentation you have the better.

Appeal of Assessment Form (download here)
  • Digest Year: 2015
  • Appeal Type: Real
  • Specifiy Grounds for Appeal: Check “Value” and “Uniformity” (This gives you the option to argue either one)
  • Path: Check “BOE” (The Boards of Equalization is free)
  • Property Owner Comments: Declare what you believe is the fair market value of your property and a short summary why.
  • Property Class: Residential
  • Sign it
  • Owner Declared Value: Take this question seriously and do some research before answering.  In your BOE hearing you will be asked how you arrived at that number.
  • Attach documentation
  • Mail to:
Property Appraisal Department
120 West Trinity Place, Room 208
Decatur, GA 30030

By virtue of filing an appeal you will receive a 15% reduction of the appraised value automatically.  The Board of Assessments (BOA) will acknowledge receipt of the appeal by mail. Eventually, the Staff Appraiser reviews the property value and any owner concerns mentioned in the letter of appeal. The BOA reviews the appeal, renders a decision, and notifies the property owner in writing within 180 days.

When you receive the decision from the BOA, you are given the option to agree or refer the appeal to the Board Of Equalization (BOE).  If you agree, that value will be valid for one year and the process stops here.

You can disagree and select to take it to the BOE.  When you get the BOE hearing notice with the hearing date, call the BOA and ask for the Residential Sales Comparables Inventory and Account Value Summary they used to appraise your property.  This document will be the basis for the BOA’s case.  At the BOE hearing, ask to hear the BOA case first.  Take notes and address each item they present.  Make 5 copies of all the documentation you have.  When it’s time to present your case, distribute them to the interested parties. This shows them you are prepared, organized, have done your diligence, and have approached this in an objective manner.  Walk them through the differences in the properties and the costs that would be required to get your property up to the value of the comps provided by the BOA.

Once you have finished, if they believe you have made a case they may begin to negotiate with you on a compromised value.  Or they may thank you and inform you that you will receive a letter with their decision within “X” weeks.  If the latter is the case, you can ask to stay for their deliberation so that you can hear their thoughts.  However, you cannot speak during this time.  They will discuss their thoughts and advise the County’s Appraiser of their decision which will then be officially provided to you via mail.

If you take it to the BOE, the property value that comes out of that proceeding will last for 3 years.  It doesn’t hurt to take whatever decision to the BOE, most of the time it will be the same or less than what the BOA came back with and it will be good for 3 years.

If it goes to the BOE, it will be a year before everything is said and done.  The final assessed value will be retroactive to the Digest Year.

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