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In the 1990’s and 2000’s Douglas County grew because of its low price and relatively short distance to Downtown Atlanta.
It was not uncommon for you to find similar housing at 2/3rd the price of an Atlanta home during that period.
Similar scenarios played out in other rapidly growing metro Atlanta counties such as Henry and Carroll Counties.
Builders were building at a rapid pace and buyers were buying at a rapid pace—and by having to drive in to Atlanta, many consumers were able to obtain larger homes for a fraction of the price that they would pay in Atlanta.
However, once the market downturn occurred many of those far out communities suffered the most.
According to the AJC (Atlanta Journal Constitution 12/25/2011) property tax appraisals in many outlying suburbs have not kept pace with the decline of home values, and many homeowners are still paying more in taxes than their property is worth.
Douglas County represents this fact more clearly, than any other metro Atlanta county—according to the AJC. In Douglas County, 2011 tax appraisals are 37% higher than real market values, based on sales prices in the first quarter of 2011.
A long commute no longer provides a great benefit to potential homeowners since the collapse in values of homes since 2006-2007.
With housing prices down throughout metro Atlanta consumers can now buy “closer in” and avoid the long commute. That is a major reason for the decline in values in outlying counties such as Douglas and others.
However, the property valuations at the county level is more disparate in Douglas than any other County in metro Atlanta that was analyzed.
Outlying property valuations in North metro counties such as Cherokee and Forsyth were overvalued by only 3% by County appraisers, whereas, Douglas (West metro) was overvalued by a whopping 37%.
In the South metro area (Henry County) properties were overvalued by 12%. In the East Metro (Dekalb County) was overvalued by 10%.
Douglas County missed the mark by a large amount due in large part to an overworked and understaffed tax assessor’s office.
In Douglas you have a staff of 6 calculating the value on 56,000 parcels.
In contrast in Cherokee County the tax assessor’s office has a staff of 30 who evaluate about 93,000 parcels.
Many banks in Douglas County are dumping properties at very low prices to get them off of their books. More than 3,600 foreclosure notices were sent out in Douglas County in 2011, according to figures from EquityDepot.net.
That high number of foreclosure played a large role in the decline of property values in Douglas County.
The tax digest in Douglas county is down by 14% over the last two years and has strained the budgets and forced Douglas to reduce its workforce by 4%.
Even so, many homeowners are upset about the pace that the tax assessor’s office is moving at.
With falling values and their taxes still too high many are looking for a monetary break and the proper valuation of their property will provide that break—according to many homeowners.
Many are appealing to the board of equalization or filing a property tax return.
Fayette County Property Valuation News
In Fayette County—another South Metro County real estate values were relatively stable compared to other metro counties, declining by 4.2% in value, or $375 million.
Even so, county appraisers overvalued properties by 15% according to the AJC.
Due to this overvaluation, homeowners are appealing at a rate twice as high as in 2010.
Henry County Property Valuation News
In Henry County—home values dropped 9.3% or about 912 million and county appraisers overvalued homes by 12% according to the AJC.
Henry County has also seen a high number of foreclosures and have seen a proliferation in investors—which further drives prices down.
Henry County’s tax base has fallen by 30%, about $1 billion, since 2009. That translates to close to $10 million less in revenue for the county.
Henry county has not raised taxes to compensate for that decline in their bills in 2010 and 2011. Many expect the property valuations to further decline in 2012 as a result of foreclosure and investor activity in 2011.
Many homeowners in Henry County feel they have lost between 30% and 40% in value on their home over the past 3 years.
In 2011 about 6,000 foreclosure notices have been sent out in Henry County, according to EquityDepot.net.
Both City Square (starter home community) and Eagles Landing Country Club (exclusive community) have seen steep declines in values and an uptick in foreclosure activity.
It is important that you realize that from 1993 to 2007 Henry County was a consistent “top 10” in the fastest growing counties in the United States.
In Rockdale County (East Metro) tax officials have not verified the accuracy of sales data and were unable to provide their property valuation to the AJC, however they stated they planned on providing the data next year for 2012 appraisals.
Forsyth County Property Valuation News
In Forsyth County (North Metro) property valuations are 3% above market value—among the most accurate in metro Atlanta, according to AJC analysis.
Overall residential value is down 7.5%, or 1,3 billion, and the number of foreclosure notices sent is down from about 3,700 in 2010 to about 3,000 in 2011.
However appraisals are up from 3,800 in 2010 to 4,936 in 2011.
Forsyth has seen a number of foreclosures and a lot of builders and developers letting go of projects due to financing and market concerns.
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