UPDATED – Heads Up: Annual Property Tax Assessments Going Out Today

property appraisalUPDATE: New appraisals are online HERE if you don’t want to wait for the snail mail version.

This is always a fun time of year.

The Decatur Minute blog reports that the DeKalb County Tax Assessor’s office will be mailing annual assessment notices to property owners starting today.

As previously reported, the DeKalb Tax Assessors office has stated that the total value of property in Decatur has gone up by 20% in the past year, with 30% of the increase credited to new property being added to the tax rolls and the remaining 70% credited to the reevaluation of current properties.

So, it’s fair to say that many folks in the Decatur city limits will see an increased assessment this year.

Since the DeKalb County website can be difficult to navigate, here’s a link to the Appeal Process webpage should require it.

Related: remember that both the City of Decatur and City Schools are considering a 1 mill decrease in the tax rate due to this big property value jump.

As for the budget for the coming year, the Decatur Minute reminds us…

Public hearings on the millage rate and budget are scheduled for Monday, June 1 at 7:30 p.m., Monday, June 8 at 6:00 p.m., and Monday, June 15 at 7:30 p.m. All hearings will be held at Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough Street. The budget is available for review on Decaturga.com, at Decatur City Hall and at the Decatur Library.

Screenshot of the DeKalb County Property Appraisal website

59 thoughts on “UPDATED – Heads Up: Annual Property Tax Assessments Going Out Today”

  1. Wonderful. My 2014 appeal still hasn’t been heard, although I at least now have a hearing date. I guess my 2015 appeal will be heard sometime in 2017 at this rate. I love how my next door neighbor, who has a house a bit bigger than mine with one additional bedroom, can sell $30K below my appraised value a year and a half after that “fair market” assessment was made. Considering the sale was $35K below his house’s assessed value, maybe I’ll get a pleasant surprise and my 2015 value will actually reflect a real life sale price rather than whatever DeKalb County’s tax assessor dreamed up on a given day. One can hope.

    1. Whattya want them to do, work past 4:30 or something, just to get your appraisal done within a year? You monster!

    2. My appeal back in 2010 or so took almost 2 years to complete. There was the appeal, their administrative response, my rejection of it, my request for a hearing before one of those county-appointed boards that hears zoning appeals, my actual appearance at the hearing. Then after they voted (and gave me what I argued for), 4 more or so months before I got my refund.

      The good news is that while there was a lot of post-decision anxiety waiting on the $$$, the county did do its job and eventually got the $$$ back, and it was retroactive to the year when I appealed.

      1. RB,
        The appraised value of our 3/2 went up 50% or $150k without any additions or renovations since the last assessment. Total shock and fear aside, based on the sales of some nearby homes, it seems plausible we could get that much for our house now. Would you recommend I appeal? And did you do this yourself or use an attorney?

        1. I did it myself, though I did hire an appraiser for an independent appraisal.

          My case was really weird. It was 2009 , peak of the great recession. We lived in Pine Lake at the time. For some strange reason, my home was re-appraised to about double the market value, and more than $100K than any home had ever sold for in possibly the history of Pine Lake. It was clearly an aberration — the city manager told me only 5 homes had increased appraisals, and mine made no sense.

          The county staff responded to my appeal with an offer that was arguably at the really really high end of “within reason,” but in my opinion did not consider how much the market had plummeted. So I appealed.

          So my case was, at least to me, rather clear cut. I used data from 1) an independent appraisal that I paid for (note: an appraiser can do an “online appraisal” that is only data-based for less $ than an in-person appraisal — under $150) 2) from all nearby home sales (similar and different) provided by a local real estate agent and 3) zilllow.com’s own online historical data and estimate of my value, to argue that even the county’s counter-offer was way off.

          My suggestion is to be as objective as possible, and use data from multiple sources to argue your claimed fair market vale. The appeal hearing is not particularly formal — just you and 3 politically appointed members around a tiny table in a dumpy room in the Calloway building. I have heard that not all committees are the same (maybe I lucked out).

          I have no idea if a lawyer would be useful. I researched this a lot, and I found (online) that some of the appeals committees are more “listening” than others. An experienced lawyer in this regard may know how the winds blow better, if only due to repeated experience.

          If you email me, I can share the info packet I prepared. Note that I am working out of town for all of June, but will eventually reply.

          1. Thanks a bunch, RB! I have no idea if I’ll appeal or not, but I’ll take your advice and start with some research and figure out home values of similar homes. If I do appeal, I may take you up on your kind offer to share your appeal packet.

    3. Okay, so I just popped out to DeKalb’s web site to see the damage for 2015. Looks like win or lose for 2014 I’ll be appealing again for 2015. The rockets scientists in the tax assessor’s office have me appraised at $70,500 more than my next door neighbor. His unit sold in March for $101,700 less than my 2015 appraisal. His unit is also 60 square feet bigger than mine. He also has one additional bedroom. Hmm….

      I know I will lose my next appeal since my unit’s January 1, 2015 value is supposed to be based on sales in 2014. Since my next door neighbor’s unit didn’t sell until March 2015 that sale won’t count until January 2016, I’m sure.

      We’ll see if my 2014 appeal works out. I have appraisals bookending January 2014. I guess the May 2014 appraisal won’t be looked at but I do have an August 2013 appraisal that shows me well under what the county thinks my place is worth.

      I suppose I just need to put this on my calendar as a recurring yearly appointment. I have to say a daily drive in from some other county is looking more appealing each year.

    1. The new appraisal data is online, but you won’t see the estimated numbers owed until you get the paper copy.

        1. fwiw, my small 2/1 will have it’s taxes raised approx $1700 next year for COD. Kinda shocked at that.

          1. COD taxes on our small 2/1 are going up over $2,500. Odds that it’s torn down to make way for a family of five just way waaaaaaaaay up!

            1. My COD taxes just went up $1K (before the pending school bond approval this Fall). Daughter is a rising Junior. Just two more years of having to pay these ridiculous taxes.

              1. Here is a little perspective for you. Move out of CoD, save $2k – $4k in taxes and put you junior in private school. Then log on DM and see if you can b*itch about taxes being “ridiculous”. Even with one child in the system, the value you receive far outweighs the cost of those “ridiculous” taxes. Of course, that might not be true if you live in a $1,000,000 home, but you aren’t going to get a lot of sympathy if that is case. (FWIW, even without a child in the system, I still think the value of living here is worth, at a minimum, the amount of those taxes.) You have a child at CSD and still oppose the bond? Freeloader. Sorry, but if you want your child in an excellent school, you should be willing to pay for it.

                1. “Freeloader” wouldn’t that be someone who does not pay anything into the system, but only takes? With what I pay in Federal, State, sales, property, Medicaid, FICA, etc taxes; I do not fit that definition.

                  1. I pay those same taxes. But, as the costs of educating our children increases, I am willing to pay for it. And get hyper-technical if it helps you sleep at night, but you are still a freeloader. Others have been paying for your kids for years. Now you are being asked to help pay more (and maybe help pay for new residents), and you refuse.

                    1. If you know of a way I can “refuse” to pay my property tax and the pending school bond, without losing my house please share.

            2. Come on down to east lake! I moved 7 blocks and dropped my taxes 50% for my tiny 2/1. On the other hand, I’ve spent a fortune renovating. . .

            3. That seems a bit much.

              Honest question(s): prior to this year’s assessment, do you think your assessment was undervalued? Could you sell your home for its current assessment?

        2. In addition to our residence in Decatur, we have two rental homes in DeKalb. Taxes went up significantly on all three properties. We were expecting this sooner or later, as values have been behind comp sales for the last couple of years.

          1. I live in a condo and own a rental condo in Decatur. Same experience here. The appraisals for my properties represent a somewhat aggressive estimate of fair market value, but have been appraised below market for 2-3 years.

            Somewhat == I think they are a tad bit too high, but not enough in tax savings to make it worth my appeal, unless they go up again next year ….

            1. By percentage, a condo we rent out in Tucker (soon to be Lavista Hills, if voters approve) had the biggest increase in assessed market value, up 40% compared to last year. The value is in line with recent sales there, though we’d probably have to spend a few thousand on it to get that much for it.

  2. So the digest is increasing by 20% and the school board and commissioners are proposing to roll back the millage by only 2 points? This is actually a massive tax increase, and it would be better reporting to lay out the example this way, based on the 15% increase of the digest from revaluation:
    Last year’s $500,000 house paid $8375 in Decatur taxes. (500000 * 0.5 * 0.0335)
    That house is now valued at $575,000 this year (a 15% increase) and would pay $9056.25 in taxes with a two point drop in millage. (575000 * 0.5 * 0.0315)

    So actually, the commission and board are proposing a $681.25 tax increase on last year’s $500,000 property. Oh, and they want to tack on a bond to that as well for even more money?

    Given the 15% digest increase due to revaluation, the board and commission should roll back the millage at least 4.5 points to 29 mills. In that instance, last year’s $500,000 house now valued at $575,000 has a tax burden of $8337.50, a slight decrease. (575000 * 0.5 * 0.029) And keep in mind the 5% increase in the tax digest from new construction that is entirely additional tax revenue.

    Also, this article should note that the reason they have to have state-mandated public hearings is because this situation is considered a property tax increase due to the increase in the digest and because the commission and board are not adopting the rollback millage rate which would leave tax revenue constant. They do not have to have the hearings because of the “big millage decrease” – they actually have to have them because they are not decreasing them enough!

    1. Didn’t we have a previous thread where it was determined that whether or not the digest increase / tax rollback proposal equates to an increase or decrease *at the personal level* came down to the unpredictability of whether or not you got reappraised?

      Thus, for properties that haven’t been reappraised, it’s a cut, right? And for properties whose value has been upped for whatever reason, it nets out as an increase?

      1. That is true – at the personal level, if your value doesn’t go up as much as the decrease in millage would force the tax down, then you’ll see a net zero or a decrease. And that can happen even if a municipality adopts the rollback rate – there are some “winners” and “losers”. But in aggregate, in this situation, Decatur is going to net a lot more money and most people are going to see an increase in property taxes. And I’m not entirely sure if the rollback rate is supposed to only account for revalued properties or any increases in the digest (eg. new construction). I was conservative with my numbers and only used the 15% from revaluation portion.

        1. Yes, the overall city budget increased 5% – not justified in my opinion and they should keep the cost increase to inflation.

  3. Our appraisal jumped this year–it said we had an addition put on, which was actually mostly interior repairs, a removal of a previous, sagging addition and rebuilding it with an additional 30 SF. Not sure that 30 SF is worth $52,000. I think we are going to have to appeal this one since we had such a large increase last year as well.

    1. My appraised value went up $55K, with NO addition. I’ll be voting a big fat NO on the school bond in November. Enough is enough.

        1. Yes, but I can’t vote against my assessment (I know I can appeal). Don’t worry DF, your school bond will pass. I’ll be one of the few casting a vote against it.

  4. Vote NO for new school taxes. I’ve had enough and I’m a bleeding heart liberal and support good schools.

    The problem will only get worse if we add new school capacity and drive out residents without kids in the schools by socking them with more tax increases creating an unsustainable death spiral for our school system.

    My taxes have already gone up 33% in the past TWO years with the bond!

    1. This^. On every single point.

      I’ll wager there’ll be more than a few of us voting “NO” on the proposed school bond. Someone else (maybe on another thread) made the very apt observation that building new and expanded school infrastructure is going to do the opposite of keeping our schools uncrowded & income/tax base diverse. I agree. It’d be better for us and for the surrounding communities if these PWKs flooding into Decatur would just stay put where they are, and help make those schools better, just like residents here back did in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. This runaway school engine is going to drive out any remnant of income diversity in this town, and then there really will be no way to pay for it all. Once that happens, the schools will suffer, too. I don’t get why this is so difficult for the “schools uber alles” crowd to comprehend.

  5. Our assessment went up 100k, and we have done no work on the house. The county now claims our 2/1 is a 3/1. Not sure where that bedroom came from. I guess we will be entering into the bureaucratic morass of the appeals process. I am alarmed by the increase, and much more will not be possible for us to bear financially.

    1. My first Dekalb home (in Brookhaven) had all sorts of bad data in the county digest, like the wrong # of bedrooms. They sent an appraiser out in person and fixed it. Just keep in mind they will report what they see, even the stuff you did not complain about. In my case, they downgraded the condition of the house from GOOD to FAIR 🙂

  6. +$100,000 on our COD home. + $50,000 on my rental property in unincorporated DeKalb (east Atlanta)

    But based on what I have seen, those are market values. The COD home is possibly still slightly undervalued.

    Based on data from First Multiple Listing Service, this year’s average COD sale is $559,000. Total no. of sales so far this year is 97. 2014 average sale in COD (which is what these values are supposed to reflect) is $520,000. Total number of sales last year was 257. These are SFR only and do not include attached homes or condos.

    Averages can be deceptive but the trend is unmistakable.

    I do enjoy living here. But with no kids, and retirement looming, I wonder . . .

  7. I’ve got mixed feelings. On the one hand, there’s no way I’m going to be happy with the tax increase that accompanies the increase in the appraised value of our 4/2 by $150,000. On the other hand, five years ago we paid $100,000 more than what the appraised value had been. Moreover, we just refinanced the house, and the appraisal the bank got was still another $20,000 more than what the county just appraised the house for.

    So while I’m not happy about paying more taxes, I don’t think I can in good conscience dispute the valuation. What does anger me, just like previous years, is the arbitrary nature of the appraisals. My next door neighbor’s 5/3 went DOWN in value by $65,000. The one next him went up by $250,000!

    1. Yes, we up 60k since last year (and 105k in two years) but still seems like market value, so we’re sticking with it. Definitely making us re-think our budget though.

  8. Had our house professionally appraised when we refinanced last year at $370K. Now, one year later we’re listed at $435K. Is that reason enough for appeal? I have no idea what I am doing.

    Also, why does my old bill show 50% taxable and the new statement say 40% taxable? I’m so confused! Please help!

    1. Would have to see the bill to be sure, but it’s probably referring to your Dekalb taxes. Those are at 40%; only Decatur is at 50%.

    2. Is that reason enough for appeal?

      Sure it is. It may not be enough to win, but it’s at least grounds for appeal. If I were you I’d check sales of similar homes near your street, too. If you can show they’ve been selling for less than you appraisal, your case is even stringer.

  9. So when do we think the housing market will stabilize around here? A house was just built and bought across the street for just over 4 times what we paid 4 years ago for ours. Is that it? Has the ceiling been hit? If so, we can ride this out, but if our property tax is going to increase $1000 or more every year … well, that’s going to be tough.

    1. Good question. Who knows? For one thing, a rise in interest rates would seem to be the catalyst for a fall in home prices, since current prices are supported by artificially low rates. But if I knew when and how much rates would rise, I’d probably be living in an estate overlooking the Pacific, backed up against a vineyard. With a Ferrari or two in the garage.

      1. Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t make any bets on interest rates last year at this time, as I was just about certain they were going to be higher within a year, and in fact they’re lower. As for housing prices, they seem to be driven by a much-improved employment picture as much as anything. That and low inventory. So maybe the question is will any increase in rates be enough to offset a strengthening job market? And will more people put their homes on the market now that values are up, boosting inventory?

        1. “As for housing prices, they seem to be driven by a much-improved employment picture as much as anything.”

          IMO that’s a bit of a mirage. Maybe more than a bit. If you adjust employment numbers for a constant labor participation rate, unemployment is about 10%.

          Even a return to “normal” mortgage rates — say in the 6% range — would mean a huge increase in the cost of new housing, especially at COD price levels. No one knows for sure but it would not surprise me at all if today’s buyers regret their purchases 2-3 years hence.

          1. 6% would be a huge jump. I don’t see that happening any time soon. Though the employment picture is improved, as you note it’s not great (but regarding the participation rate, I think a good bit of that can be chalked up to boomers going ahead and retiring rather than trying to find a job for which their skills no longer fit). That will probably be enough justification for the Fed to keep rates low for the foreseeable future. Having said that, I’ll probably be as wrong as I was last year, except in the opposite direction.
            What could drive values down? If institutional investors start unloading the single-family properties they’re renting out.

          2. This would require an entirely different thread, but adjusting for a constant employment participation rate is backwards thinking. The participation rate is not constant and it’s not going to be. The participation rate isn’t going to be what it was because our largest generation in history is now at retirement age. Baby boomers aren’t participating, they’re beginning to retire, which is natural and not Obama’s fault, despite what you read out on the right-wing economic fringe blogs, which includes Fox News. The Atlanta region added over 20k net new jobs last month. 20k jobs in one month. We’ll likely add 100k jobs this year. Those are frothy numbers only seen in boom times. These are the facts on the ground in Atlanta. The economy is humming here. We are creating jobs in real numbers at much much higher rates than Charlotte, or Nashville or other “peer” cities (which aren’t really in the same league in terms of the size of the economy). Our hot housing market here is most certainly tied to the hot local economy, among other things.

            1. Very interesting, but no one injected politics here before you. At any rate, your economic prognostications may well be right. So invest accordingly, and best of luck to you.

            2. “We are creating jobs in real numbers at much much higher rates than Charlotte, or Nashville or other “peer” cities (which aren’t really in the same league in terms of the size of the economy).”

              I can’t speak to Charlotte, but Nashville’s economy is booming. The unemployment rate is more than a point lower than Atlanta’s.

              1. Nashville’s economy is booming, and so is Charlotte’s. However, Atlanta’s economy, in terms of number of jobs, is over twice the size of Nashville’s and nearly so of Charlotte’s. They seem to get all the attention because they have higher rate of growth (%) numbers. But because Atlanta’s base number is already large, we don’t “pop” when it comes to rate of growth. However, we are still the largest economy in the SE, by far, and are creating more jobs than either of those regions. Job creation, not unemployment rate is most widely looked at to assess economic strength. Totally digression, I know.

  10. House was reassessed after our purchase in summer of 2013 for within 2% of the purchase price. Less than two years later, with no work occurring, our assessment is up $230k.

    1. Listing prices for new construction, same look and size has increased from the $700k to the $900k in about that time so it’s a match.

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