Property assessments have been mailed and many in Fayette County are reporting significant increases in the fair market values assigned to their homes.
Countywide, residential property values averaged an increase of 12.1 percent, according to Fayette’s Chief Appraiser Joel Benton. Agricultural land increased 11.8 percent, commercial went up 10.4 percent and industrial rose 6.3 percent, Benton said Tuesday.
All assessments are based on the state-required mass appraisal process, Benton said.
It is no secret that home prices in Fayette are increasing and that the county is sitting in a seller’s market with increasing home prices. And when it comes to assessments, the portion of the notice in the mail dealing with property taxes owed represents 40 percent of the fair market value of that property.
Following state law, Benton said fair market value is the amount a knowledgeable buyer will pay for a property and a willing seller would accept for that property at an arm’s length sale. Benton said the biggest factor in the value of property increasing deals with the geographic location of that property.
“It’s all about what the property would sell for if it’s on the open market. That’s the law,” Benton said.
Benton said his office is audited by the state annually and is in-line with the mass appraisal process.
Benton noted that, during the recent years of the Great Recession, property values, and accompanying property taxes, were falling and the fair market value reflected that reality.
Today, and for the past few years, property values in Fayette and metro Atlanta are rising.
Benton said the most significant increase in fair market value is with residential and agricultural property, while commercial and industrial property values are increasing at a slower rate.
Those wanting to appeal their assessment have until June 22 to do so, Benton said.
That’s the situation with assessments. So what is the situation with home sales in Fayette?
Fayette Board of Realtors spokesperson Veronica Bangsboll said the demand for real estate in Fayette County was very strong in 2016 and is off to a fast start in 2017.
Trendgraphix reports that listed inventory was down 9 percent from the prior year while closings were up 10 percent. Put another way, fewer homes were for sale while more buyers were in the market.
Information provided by Bangsboll via Berkshire Hathaway Home Services showed the average sale price in March was $319,000, an 8.5 percent increase compared to February and a 10 percent increase compared to a year ago.
Information on Fayette home data for March showed Fayette being a seller’s market. The county in March, based on homes sales, had 2.5 months of home inventory. That represents a decrease of 24.4 percent over February and a decrease of 7.4 percent compared to last year.
In terms of the sale of some of the county’s most expensive homes, Bangsboll said three homes in 2013 sold for $1 million or more. That number increased to five homes in 2014, 12 homes in 2015 and 14 homes over $1 million in 2016.
A look into the recent past might be worthwhile when considering home prices. The county tax digest is the total assessed value of all real and personal property and motor vehicles. Personal property and motor vehicles represent only a small fraction of the overal tax digest.
The 2017 tax digest is expected to increase approximately 13 percent over last year, Benton said.
A review of the past 10 years of Fayette’s net tax digest, the value of all property minus exemptions, showed a pre-Great Recession value of $4.9 billion in 2006, $5.2 billion in 2007 and $5.4 billion in 2008.
The value of the county plateaued somewhat in 2009 at $5.5 billion before taking a nosedive. Those decreases in value included $4.9 billion in 2010, $4.8 billion in 2011 and $4.3 billion in 2012.
An incremental increase came in 2013 when the net digest was valued at $4.32 billion, followed by a 2014 net digest value of $4.4 billion. Values increased to $4.7 billion in 2015 and to just over $5 billion in 2016. A preliminary estimate places the 2017 net digest at $5.6 billion.