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Decatur, Georgia 30030
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Georgia property assessment lock

Home prices in Atlanta are rising.  The anecdotal evidence homeowners may be observing in their neighborhoods has been confirmed by the most recent Case-Shiller Index.  This index calculates the value of homes in the top 20 cities nationwide.  The study is conducted monthly and is based upon the repeat sales of single family homes.  According to the index, home values in Atlanta increased 3.8% between March and April of 2013.  Year over year, values increased 20%.

Atlanta House BABEEEE

Homeowners are benefiting from these increases, but, of course, an increase in home prices leads to an increase in the taxes homeowners must pay.  However, if the property value is appealed, then the homeowner has the ability to maintain the property value for three years.

To begin the process of locking in the property value, one must first appeal the current property tax assessment.  If at any time during the appeal process the county board of tax assessors and the taxpayer agree in writing on a new fair market value, the board of tax assessors or board of equalization shall be prohibited from changing the value for a period of three years, inclusive of the year in which the appeal was filed.  Once the valuation has been set, the homeowner should not contest the valuation to the board of equalization, as such a challenge could trigger an increase in the property’s valuation.  The statute governing the property value lock procedure can be found here.

Though the process of obtaining a Georgia property assessment lock seems straightforward, an attorney adept in the field of real estate law can prove helpful in establishing a three year property value lock.  A consultation with one of our attorneys will provide a detailed legal opinion that can help lock in your property value for three years.

Georgia’s Foreclosure Confirmation Statute

Despite a recent uptick in the real estate market, both residential and commercial real estate owners continue to feel the after effects of the previous bubble.  Many properties have failed to rebound to the values at which they were purchased, and thus have become impossible to refinance.  This has led to further foreclosures, and, when necessary, creditors bringing lawsuits against owners seeking the deficiency between the amount owed and the foreclosure sale price.  In order to seek this deficiency after conducting a foreclosure sale, creditors must engage in what is called foreclosure confirmation.

800px-Sign_of_the_Times-Foreclosure

Georgia does not require a judicial foreclosure sale of real estate.  This means, if a debtor were to default on their payments, the creditor would not have to obtain a court order to sell the property.  The creditor can conduct what is termed a non-judicial foreclosure.  As stated earlier, frequently creditors do not obtain the full amount of their loan at the foreclosure sale, thus triggering the need to follow the specific foreclosure confirmation process.

The creditor that is instituting the initial foreclosure proceedings must, within thirty days, report the sale to the presiding judge of the superior court of the county in which the property is located.  Georgia law dictates that five days before the hearing, notice shall be given to the debtor.  During this process, the court, by law, shall require the creditor to show the true market value of the property.  Statutorily, the court shall not approve the sale unless the property brought its true market value.  Additionally, the court will also analyze the legality of the notice, whether there was adequate advertisement, and the regularity of the sale.  The statute governing this procedure can be found here.

Representing oneself during legal proceedings, particularly a foreclosure action, is a daunting task.  An attorney experienced in the nuances of Georgia’s foreclosure proceedings can prove invaluable in warding off a potential deficiency judgment.  A consultation with one of our attorneys will provide you with a thorough legal assessment as to the status and viability of the foreclosure confirmation brought against you.

Clock is ticking for filing a Georgia Property Tax Appeal

As another summer draws closer, Metro Atlanta’s counties have begun to issue their annual property tax assessments. If they have not received their assessments already, Georgia property owners should expect them soon.  Concomitant with the issuance of tax assessments is the question of how and whether to file a Georgia Property Tax Appeal.  Before tackling that issue, a review of the basics of Georgia tax property assessment law would be useful.

Georgia Property Tax Appeal

In Georgia, each county has a board of equalization charged with determining real property values.  Since the passage by the Georgia Legislature of a property tax reform act in 2011, each county is required to provide every property owning taxpayer with an annual notice of assessment.  Upon receipt of their notice, property owners have 45 days from the mailing date to appeal the valuation to their respective boards of equalization.  The appeal letter (or, appeal email, if electronic service is offered by the county) must contain certain information such as the property address, a means to contact the property owner, and the property owner’s proposed valuation.  After receipt of the appeal letter, the board of equalization is statutorily required to set a hearing date.

While filing a Georgia property tax appeal may seem like a simple process, the advice of an experienced property tax appeal attorney can provide you with the informational advantage you need to appeal your assessment.   A consultation with our attorneys will provide you with an unbiased legal opinion as to the best strategy for successfully filing a Georgia property tax appeal.

The Short Sale Series – The Short Sale Credit Score Myth

Homeowners answer with a fairly common refrain whenever asked why they are considering going the short sale route.   While it is true that some feel they have a duty to try and honor their agreement with the lender, the most common answer by far is that they want to salvage whatever remains of their credit score.

While we do not want to patronize our readers, we think it would be a valuable exercise to briefy discuss what a credit score is. (more…)

The Short Sale Series – Is Short Sale a Smart Option in Georgia?

As Atlanta and the State of Georgia enter the fifth year of the residential mortgage meltdown, one would hope that information about the options available to troubled borrowers would be widely available. Unfortunately, based on the calls received by our office, borrowers seem no better educated than they were in 2008.  

Three factors figure heavily in the dearth of useful information available to borrowers. (more…)