Gwinnett County Property Tax 2013

Given that it is January 2013 it is time to start talking about Gwinnett County property tax in 2013. As you may be aware the effective date of appraisal in Georgia for property tax purposes is January 1 of every year. Currently, the tax assessors personnel are verifying sales that took place during calendar year 2012 that they will use to change values for tax year 2013. According to the Case-Shiller home price index for Atlanta Georgia home prices have risen approximately 10.5% since February 2012. However, this is an average and not all market areas have risen.

For example, based on data from, values in the Brookwood elementary school district in Snellville, Georgia declined 32% from the market peak to trough, and values have declined 11% in 2012 as compared to 2011. Overall values in this market area are considered weak. In Riverside elementary school district in Suwanee Georgia values also declined 32% from peak to trough and were down 5.3% in 2012 as compared to 2011. Values here are also considered weak. In the Gwin Oaks elementary school district in Lawrenceville, Georgia values declined 44% from peak to trough but values were up in 2012, approximately 14% over 2011. In Freeman's Mill elementary school district also in Lawrenceville, Georgia values declined 38% from peak to trough and recently values have been stable.

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Fair Assessments, LLC vs. Appraisers

This article contrasts the work done by Fair Assessments, LLC vs. Appraisers. During the recent real estate depression (some might say ongoing) many people saw that there was money to be made in property tax reduction work and got into the business. Many of the people/companies that have gotten into this work are real estate appraisers. Some people might think that this is a natural extension of what appraisers already do for a living. They might be wrong. 

The appraisal business has changed a lot since I did this work twenty years ago. The government, in the name of protecting federally insured institutions and the public, has (unintentionally) driven down the price of a real estate appraisal. There are a handfull of large companies that make software for appraisers, and some of them saw a way to make more money by providing marketing services to appraisers. One that I am aware of, a la mode inc., pushes it's print and email marketing software to appraisers that "will proactively help you get new clients that pay higher fees."

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How Much Should I Pay a Property Tax Consultant?

For residential property tax appeal consulting the cost falls in a narrow range. Your best bet is to find the most qualified consultant that you can. Typical residential flat fees may be $350 or higher. Alternatively, many companies charge $250 up front and 25% of whatever tax savings are generated. Some offer $150 +/- plus a third of the tax savings generated. Generally speaking qualifications are more important than saving a few dollars in up-front cost.

Beware of companies that send you a letter or postcard that says "this is how much we think we can save you $." You can be reasonably certain they are using a database of old values to generate these postcard savings estimates. I would be very cautious about this, especially if there’s a high flat fee involved. Some of these companies may charge $350 or more, and if you’re in a city or county that reappraises on an annual basis, spending that much money may be a losing proposition. If they get a reduction that doesn't cover their service fees, and the County increases your tax assessment the next year, then you have just wasted your money.

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Property Tax Appeals - Using the Income Approach

The Income Approach uses capitalization to convert the anticipated benefits of the ownership of property into an estimate of present value.

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