Assessed Property Value Rising

Property owners listen up. Even as the housing market has slowed and property value has dropped in recent years, some homeowners are finding their local government is actually raising assessed value. But you can fight back.

Sean Callebs Reports.

"I am not going to pay more than I need to." This has become a rallying cry for homeowners who believe tax assessors are sticking it to 'em, and has put local government on the defensive.

I hear from people when they get reassessed. Sometimes they don't like it.

Jon Whittlin has watched his family grow since settling into a home in suburban north Atlanta several years ago. Even as the housing market cooled, Whittlin expected he would still receive a modest jump in his property value, but he was shocked when the county raised the assessed value of his home from about $250,000 to $350,000. He fought back.

"I think people sit back and don't do anything. They just don't know how to or they don't do it," Whitlin said.

Whittlin wasn't alone. So he started a grass roots effort to help his neighbors fight back. It starts off with a letter writing campaign, and can progress to legal action. So, how exactly does a county determine the assessed value?

I think one of the most effective things is to look at how your house is rated to a neighbor, but Whittlin's house was being compared to a home more a mile out of his subdivision. Where homes are newer, larger and admittedly nicer.

Here's what homeowners should look at if they want to fight back: quality of public schools, street traffic proximity to an airport, and in Whittlen's case - powerlines right next door to his house, which weren't there when he moved in.

After writing the letter, he appeared before the assessors board to argue his case, and was successful in getting the value back down to about $250,000.

He said he saved more than $1,000 a year.

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