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Tax assessment letters are out, property values are up

If you own a home in Forsyth County, chances are your property value will be higher this year.

The Forsyth County Board of Tax Assessors recently mailed out the state-required annual assessment notice May 21 to all people who own property in Forsyth County. 

It is the most excruciating time of year for Mary Kirkpatrick, the county’s chief appraiser, whose department sees an influx of complaints and concerns around this time of the year.

“We always joke that notice time’s not fun for us,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s probably not one of our better times of the year, but it’s all part of the job.”

Kirkpatrick and her department’s job is to determine whether properties are assessed at fair market value and whether those assessments are in line with other similar properties in the area. Each year the Board of Tax Assessors reviews approximately 7,500 sales to determine any necessary adjustments to the assessments.

This year, the average home price in Forsyth County increased 2.8 percent, according to Kirkpatrick, from around $250,000 to $257,000.

Kirkpatrick said part of the increase can be attributed to an adjustment to the building cost table, a calculation of the cost of construction and permit activities — like new additions or finished basements — which can change over time. An analysis determined the Board of Tax Assessors’ building cost table was out of date.

Kirkpatrick said the increase is also in line with recent real estate trends in the county. The county continues to see its population grow, as people are attracted to its overall quality of life, and so property values have grown with it. Since 2010, Forsyth County’s population has grown 24.50 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimated 2018 statistics.

“People are paying premium prices for homes here,” Kirkpatrick said.

Those price increases can be bittersweet for property owners. For those who view their property as an investment, a value increase is a good thing; their investment is growing. But with it comes the property tax increase, which can produce angst among owners.

Kirkpatrick said much of that angst is often aimed at the county and school system, but that’s misplaced, she said. 

“We don’t re-appraise at the request of either one of those departments,” Kirkpatrick said. “We just do what [Georgia] constitution and Georgia revenue code requires us to do.”

And the assessment notice doesn’t have to be the final say. Owners can appeal their property value up until July 5. Kirkpatrick encourages owners to go to the Board of Tax Assessors’ website where they can search for sales to see if their property’s assessment value is uniform to the area. If it’s not, the state-designated appeal form is available on the department’s website.

“If you’ve got questions, send us an appeal,” Kirkpatrick said. “Either way, we’ll be glad to try to work with the taxpayers to try to get it squared away.”