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Appeals down as appraisals on rise
Tax official points to fast-changing market
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Forsyth County News

The number of Forsyth County property owners who appealed their assessed values has dropped significantly from last year.

Chief Appraiser Mary Kirkpatrick said the office had reviewed about 550 appeals prior to the Forsyth County Board of Tax Assessors meeting Thursday.

A slew of appeals came in right at the June 14 deadline that haven’t yet been counted, but Kirkpatrick said the total may hit only about 1,000, which is a sharp decline from the nearly 5,000 appeals received in 2012.

Kirkpatrick speculated the reason for fewer appeals could be that values had already been lowered in past years as the market stalled.

Also, because values are rising in some areas, property owners could feel that an appeal wouldn’t help their requests for lower appraisals.

The office determines the value of a property as of Jan. 1, Kirkpatrick said, which has added some complexity to this year’s appraisals in a fast-changing market.

Tax assessors have traditionally used the 12 months prior sales to analyze the value at the year’s start, she said.

“The trend even in this business now is you’re better off to look three months back and three months forward to find that representative value of Jan. 1,” she said. “A sale in February of 2013 is more representative of Jan. 1, 2013, than a sale in February of 2012. Particularly right now, that’s true.”

Based on the deadline to prepare the county’s tax digest by April 1, three months sales aren’t available, Kirkpatrick said, but those values can be considered in reviewing an appeal.

Those sales values can provide good guidance, especially since independent appraisals may go out of date quickly in the changing market.

She added that appraisers seem to remain cautious, and are possibly undervaluing properties in some cases.

“I can see sales that have occurred that are definitely in the same time period, higher than these appraisals are coming in,” she said. “We’re beginning to get this swing back.”

The county’s tax digest for 2013 rose about 3.1 percent, with 2.7 percent coming from new construction.

About .4 percent of that increase came from the overall rise in home and commercial values, but that number could be higher in 2014.

Though the southern half of Forsyth seems to be rebounding in the commercial sector, those values have stayed stagnant on the county’s north end, according to a staff report.

While a 1.2-acre lot across from Vickery Village recently sold for $400,000, commercial sites with major highway frontage have remained near $30,000 per acre, the report stated.