Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Jan. 20, 2019

Don't Forget to Apply for Your Homestead Exemption in 2019!

If you bought your primary residence in 2018 (or in previous years but haven't applied yet), it's time to file your homestead exemption with your county and perhaps your city as well. In all Metro-Atlanta counties you have until April 1st, 2019 to apply for this tax benefit, and since time goes by fast, we wanted to share this info today so you can get started now.

A homestead exemption is a legal provision that helps reduce the amount of property taxes owed on owner-occupied homes. Under Georgia law, you are entitled to a homestead exemption for property that you own and occupy as your primary residence as of January 1. The exemption is not automatic, however, and you have to properly file for the exemption to save on your taxes.

The amount you will save is a calculated percentage of your tax assessment. The good news is that the homestead exemption will remain on the property until there is a change in ownership, so you only have to do this once and it will be in place in the future. You must be a legal resident of the county and must own and occupy the home as of January 1st of the year the homestead exemption is sought.

In order to complete the application, you will need the following information and documentation:

  • Georgia Driver’s License or valid GA identification;
  • Social Security Number (Owner and Spouse)
  • Registration for all vehicles owned
  • Recorded deed for new owners
  • Trust document and affidavit if the property is in a trust
  • Proof of income, previous year’s tax returns, and copy of Social Security Award Letter (for Senior and other Special Exemptions)

Your recorded deed should have been sent to you by the closing attorney approximately 4-6 weeks after the closing. Please remember to contact the Tax Commissioner’s Office or Tax Assessor’s Office after you have filed the application to confirm receipt and that the taxing authority considers the exemption properly filed and granted.

Don't forget to apply before April 1st!

Below are county links and phone numbers to get you started:

Posted in Misc
Jan. 2, 2019

2018 Atlanta Real Estate Year End Review

Welcome to 2019!

Just like we did last year, we thought we'd take a quick look back at 2018 and check out some of the stats for Real Estate in the Atlanta Metro area. As Realtors, we routinely use the FMLS and GAMLS systems when working with our clients and wanted to share some interesting insights you might enjoy.

MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service - a private online database that Realtors use to get the most updated information on listings. Other free and public online websites like Zillow/Trulia/Realtor take this information and aggregate it on a national scale, however they are not always as up-to-date and don't include the private remarks that only Realtors can see. If you'd like to search the FMLS system, you can do it on our website here:
Search ALL Metro Atlanta Real Estate.

Let's get started, shall we? All the info below was taken from FMLS which covers all of Georgia but mostly Metro Atlanta. These stats are for residential properties only (detached and attached) and does not include commercial, land or developed lots, and also excludes private transactions that didn't make it onto the service. Where relevant, we'll compare year over year numbers and see what's changed.

How many new listings were there?

2018 was a record year! In the past year there were a total of 124,973 new listings, only about 5,000 more than the previous year. This was the highest number of new listings in the past decade, just higher than the 122,002 listings of 2010, at the peak of the great recession. The strongest month was June with 12,633, followed closely by the month of May.

What was the total sales volume?

A second record was set for total sales volume which for the year was $26,298,202,429. That is much higher than the low point of the past decade, which again goes to 2010 at close to $9.5B and just over $1.5B higher than the previous year.

Here's the chart:

How many properties actually sold?

The total number of sales in 2018 was the second highest in the past decade, coming in at 87,377 properties sold, just 379 less than the previous year. Looking back at 2010 we see the low point of the decade at nearly half the number of sales with 49,788. 

 

What's going on in the luxury market above $1M?

We wanted to highlight the Atlanta luxury market and take a look at new listings and sales above the $1M mark. We keep track of the luxury market in our "Dekel Report" which is being revamped and will now come out on a monthly basis and showcases new listings and sold listings. You can also check out the archives. Look out for the first edition of 2019 in February!

In the past year 3,646 new listings hit the market and 1,311 sales closed at a sale price over $1M, just a little under 200 more than we had in the previous year. These sales totaled nearly $2B bringing the average sale price to just over $1.5M. The months of March/April peaked at 389/391 new listings, while June had the most closed sales at 167 for over $256M.

Here's the chart:

What was the highest sale last year?

The most expensive property sold was once again outside the city in Canton and sold for $9.25M in cash (asking price was $13.5M and though FMLS shows that it sold in 361 days it was actually previously listed in august 2016 for a year). You can check it out here.

The top sale in Atlanta was in Buckhead and sold for $8.925M. This 9,955 square feet estate had been on the market for 236 days and was originally listed at $9.5M. You can check it out here.

There's lots more where that came from!

We know some of you would love to find out more details about what's going on in the real estate market, so we've created a way for you to create your own custom market reports. You can set up reports by zip code (here's the 30339 Market Report), by city (here's the Smyrna Market Report) or even by subdivision (here's the Vinings Estates Market Report).

If you'd like more detailed information or need any help buying or selling real estate, please Contact Us. We wish you all a wonderful year in 2019!

June 9, 2018

How to Appeal Your Property Tax

So it's that time of the year again and if you own real estate in the state of Georgia you should have received your annual Notice of Assessment from your county's Tax Assessor's Office. And in many cases the fair market value may be higher than it was last year which means you will pay more in property taxes. Unless you decide to appeal the higher value, that is. This could be a daunting task, so we decided to put together this post to try to help you understand the appeal process.

First thing you must understand is that you are only appealing the value that an appraiser from the Tax Assessor's office in your county has assigned to your property. This has nothing to do with the Tax Commissioner's office who is in charge of collecting the taxes that local politicians have set in the form of millage rates. You can't debate the merits of a new stadium in your county or the amount paid to local services or schools. It's just about the fair market value of your home.

It is crucial to appeal before the deadline! The date is usually set at 45 days after the notice of assessment has been mailed out and is printed in the top right corner. There are 159 counties in Georgia and each one might have a different deadline and sometimes even several dates. In some cases you may be able to fill out an appeal form and submit it online, however it is highly recommended to hand deliver the appeal form and have it stamped to absolutely ensure it doesn't get lost in the system/mail.

By the way, the county also has to meet a deadline and if they don't, you win the appeal and the value will revert to your asserted value!

Here are a couple of examples of deadlines (Fulton and Cobb):

Fulton County Deadline Cobb County Deadline

If you didn't receive your notice of assessment, it is usually fairly easy to find it online. Each county will have a slightly different website that is searchable by address, name and parcel ID. If you need help locating your notice, Contact Us.

You will need to send in a GA Department of Revenue form PT-311a (same for every county). You can find it online with a quick search or download it here.

It is recommended to only check one of the first two options for the grounds for appeal: Value or Uniformity.

Value means you are basing your appeal on recent comparable sales in your area. If other identical or similar houses in the same condition sold for less than your assessed value, this is the option you want to go with.

Uniformity means you are basing your appeal on whether or not your property value is assessed the same per square foot as the other homes on your street. This can take some time to figure out and a little more research is required, but since the search engines are open and you can see all the other assessments, you can make your case this way too.

Bringing an appraisal to a tax appeal hearing can definitely help, although it is not required. Sometimes it's as simple as finding an error in the tax record stating you have a finished basement or wrong square footage.

The next step is to select how you want your appeal to be heard:

BOE

In most cases you will select to appeal to the county Board of Equalization (BOE), which is a panel that hears both sides and makes a decision. This is a free option whereas if you chose one of the other options there is usually an additional cost. You can also appeal the BOE decision to the Superior Court if you don't get the decision you want.

Enter the value you believe is correct in the "Owner's Value Assertion" section. There are only two lines to fill out your comments so you may want to write "see attached letter" and attach a letter with a more detailed description. You will get to state your case in front of the BOE and go into more detail in the hearing as well.

Don't forget to pay your taxes even though your appeal is pending! You can pay the whole bill and get a refund if you win the appeal. Or you can pay 85% of the current tax bill or last year's bill. But you have to pay your taxes or they will accrue interest, which is non-negotiable.

Eventually you will find yourself in a conference room with the county appraiser. It is crucial to keep emotions in check and argue your case based on facts & data - comparable sales, uniformity, condition of property, etc. If you lose your temper - you lose! It's better to go first versus the county and present the best comps. Bring data and evidence with you, for example:

  • Picture of your kitchen, if you feel it's not as nice as the comps, or backyard or lack thereof, etc.
  • Bring tax assessments of neighboring properties if it helps your case
  • Bring historical tax assessments
  • Price per square foot average of comparable sales and neighboring properties
  • You can also point out function or economic obsolescence - for example, you back up to a gas station or power lines. Or maybe part of the property is not usable due to damage from a flood. Mention an unusual floorplan or location in the neighborhood, etc.

You MUST go to the hearing! If you don't show up your appeal is dismissed. No matter if you win or lose the appeal, the result is frozen for 3 years (but only if you show up to the hearing). This is usually a good thing unless property values start to decline. Many people file an appeal every 4 years to lock in their values.

In case you were wondering what your home is currently worth, we have a free automated valuation tool you can use to get an estimated value and see some recent comparable sales. Because it is an automated tool it doesn't take into account condition and other factors. We would be happy to help calculate a more exact figure. Try the valuation tool here:

We hope this was helpful and once again, please Contact Us if you have any questions!

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: We are Realtors and this post is not intended to provide legal or tax advice in any way. This is informational only. If you need legal or tax advice we will be happy to refer you to one of our trusted partners.

Posted in Misc
Feb. 17, 2018

Marietta Joins Smyrna by Passing Hands-Free Law

Put that phone down if you're driving in Smyrna and Marietta.
Now it's the law!

Marietta is now the second city in Cobb County (and actually all of Georgia) to pass a hands-free driving ordinance last Wednesday. Going into effect on April 1st, the new law will be sure to put more pressure on state lawmakers to pass a statewide law. The City of Smyrna passed a similar law to try to curb road accidents and fatalities that was approved in early January.

While a current Georgia no-texting law has been enforced for some time now, these newly passed regulations go much further, allowing drivers only one touch or swipe and only to initiate hands-free use of the device. This applies to vehicles in motions, but also if temporarily stopped at a stop sign or traffic light. You may now use a mobile device only when lawfully parked or safely pulled over to the side of the road.

Furthermore, watching videos, still images and viewing or reading text based content other than related to navigation or function of the vehicle is now illegal. The only exceptions are for law enforcement and public utility employees responding to emergencies and for regular citizens who are reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, criminal act or a serious road hazard.

You will now be fined up to $150 per violation and each violation constitutes a separate offense and will be reported to the Department of Driver Services.

Click Here to read the full text of Ordinance 20180094.

So put the phone away. It can wait. Please share this information with your friends and family and drive safely!

*Obvious disclaimer: We are Realtors, not Lawyers, so this is not legal advice. If you need a Lawyer we would be happy to refer you to some great ones we know!

Posted in Misc
Jan. 2, 2018

2017 Atlanta Real Estate Year End Review

Welcome to 2018!

We thought we'd take a quick look back at 2017 and check out some of the stats for Real Estate in the Atlanta Metro area. As Realtors, we routinely use the FMLS and GAMLS systems when working with our clients and wanted to share some interesting insights you might enjoy.

MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service - a private online database that Realtors use to get the most updated information on listings. Other free and public online websites like Zillow/Trulia/Realtor take this information and aggregate it on a national scale, however they are not always as up-to-date and don't include the private remarks that only Realtors can see. If you'd like to search the FMLS system, you can do it on our website here:
Search ALL Metro Atlanta Real Estate.

Let's get started, shall we? All the info below was taken from FMLS which covers all of Georgia but mostly Metro Atlanta. These stats are for residential properties only (detached and attached) and does not include commercial, land or developed lots, and also excludes private transactions that didn't make it onto the service.

How many new listings were there?

In 2017 there were a total of 120,110 new listings, only about 3,000 more than the previous year. This was the second highest number of new listings in the past decade, just shy of the 122,002 listings of 2010, at the peak of the great recession. The strongest month was March with 12,569, followed closely by June and May.

What was the total sales volume?

The total sales volume for the year was just over $24,045,903,643. That is much higher that the low point of the past decade, which again goes to 2010 at close to $9.5B.

Here's the chart:

How many properties actually sold?

The total number of sales in 2017 was also the highest for the past decade, coming in at 85,646 properties sold, just about 1000 more than the previous year. Looking back at 2010 we see the low point of the decade at nearly half the number of sales with 49,788. 

 

What's going on in the luxury market above $1M?

We wanted to highlight the Atlanta luxury market and take a look at new listings and sales above the $1M mark. We keep track of the luxury market in our "Dekel Report" which comes out on Monday of each week and showcases new listings and properties under contract. You can also check out the archives.

In the past year 3,385 new listings hit the market and 1,116 sales closed at a sale price over $1M. These sales totaled nearly $1.7B bringing the average sale price to just over $1.52M. The month of March peaked at 434 new listings, while May had the most closed sales at 140 for over $204M.

Here's the chart:

What was the highest sale last year?

The most expensive property sold was actually right on the beach in Sea Island and sold for $9.1M in cash (asking price was $10M and it sold in only 69 days). You can check it out here.

The top sale in Atlanta was in Tuxedo Park and sold for $7.15M in cash. This 12,864 square feet estate had been on the market on and off since it was built in 2009 and was at one time listed for $12.5M. You can check it out here.

There's lots more where that came from!

We know some of you would love to find out more details about what's going on in the real estate market, so we've created a way for you to create your own custom market reports. You can set up reports by zip code (here's the 30339 Market Report), by city (here's the Smyrna Market Report) or even by subdivision (here's the Vinings Estates Market Report).

If you'd like more detailed information or need any help buying or selling real estate, please Contact Us. We wish you all a wonderful year in 2018!

Jan. 1, 2018

Happy New Year 2018!

Posted in Misc
Dec. 15, 2017

Fed Hikes Rates and Tax Reform News

A couple of economic milestones passed this week that may be of interest to home owners/buyers/sellers.

1. Fed Hikes Rates

On Wednsday the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time in 2017 (as was generally expected) to a range of 1.25% to 1.5%. This change, which will mean higher rates on some mortgages, indicates confidence in the strength of the economy and getting rates to normal levels. The Fed is anticipated to raise rates three more times in 2018. As you can see in the graph below, we are still much lower than pre-recession levels:

This move by the Fed will likely impact mortgage rates by 25 basis points in the near future. While rates are still at historical lows, the average rates today are:

15 year fixed - 3.15%
30 year fixed - 3.92%
30 year jumbo fixed - 4.11%

Don't forget that these rates will change from one lender to another and will depend on credit scores, origination points, closing costs and other factors.

If you need help with a mortgage, we know some terrific loan officers we can refer you to! Just Contact Us!

2. Tax Reform News

This one is a little more complicated, folks. Mostly because there hasn't been a final decision or bill signed into law yet. And before we go any further, we just want to urge you to contact your accountant or tax adviser before you make any decisions.

The House and Senate have now each passed a different version of the new tax bill called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. What this means is that both sides of Congress now need to figure out a way to come to a single unified law and that is done through a Conference Committee. Most of the discrepancies revolve around timing and limits.

Both bills already agree on the new standard deduction, which will impact most taxpayers. Today the deduction for single/married people is $6,350/$12,700 and it will be raised to $12,000/$24,000. What this means is that if you fall under that limit you won't need to itemize your deductions at all and just take the standard deduction. Today only 30% of households itemize their deductions and this move will bring that number down to around 10%.

Both bills also agree on repealing the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT) and putting a cap of $10K on property tax deductions. Today, income or sales and property SALTs are fully deductible for those who itemize. However, with the new higher standard deductions this new cap may not even make a difference.

One item that is still being negotiated and will affect home buyers is the cap on the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID). Today the MID is capped at $1 Million and that's the way the Senate wants to keep it, while the House wants to reduce it to $500K. Congressional aides say negotiators have agreed to scale back the MID and cap it at $750K but we won't know for sure until the dust settles. This should apply only to new mortgages and not current mortgages.

The Estate Tax that today stands at 40% on assets over $5.49 Million may be repealed by 2024 and will immediately double the asset limit.

Corporate Tax Rates will be coming down from 35% to 20% either immediately or over the next two years and there will also be changes to "Pass-Through" Tax Treatments. Today this kind of income is taxed at the regular personal income tax rates, but in the future may be capped at 25%. This is extremely significant for business owners and corporations because it allows for a much lower tax liability.

There are some other very important changes that will apply to the Child Tax Credit (going up), repealing or keeping the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), Education, Healthcare, Expensing of New Equipment, Individual Tax Rates, International Tax Rules and many others.

To summarize, you can see that there are many changes that may or may not impact every taxpayer. And we still don't have a definitive answer, although the Conference Committee plans to put a unified bill for the President to sign into law before the end of the year.

Once again, we urge you not to make any rash decisions and consult with your accountants and tax advisers.

Posted in Misc
Nov. 28, 2017

Introducing 'The Dekel Report'

Have you ever wondered about the activity in the Atlanta Luxury Real Estate market? Especially listings over $1 Million? What went under contract and what's new on the market? Well now you can find all that information in one place!

We're proud to introduce 'The Dekel Report'! We will be publishing all the info about Million Dollar Listings in Atlanta, all in one place and updated ever Sunday night. So click the links below to check out the reports and bookmark them for future use:

The Dekel Report - New Listings Over $1M

The Dekel Report - Under Contract Over $1M

Do you have any suggestions to make this report better? We'd love to hear your feedback!

Posted in The Dekel Report
Oct. 26, 2017

Coming next month to Atlanta! Would you let Amazon come in and drop off packages?

If you don't want Amazon boxes or groceries sitting on your porch or by your mailbox, the company hopes you might let their delivery drivers unlock your home and place your packages inside. A new service called Amazon Key is about to launch that will allow them to do just that. The drivers will pass strict vetting and combined with a special Wi-Fi connected lock and Amazon Cloud Cam, they will be able to unlock the door and come inside. Customers who want to use the service will need to be Amazon Prime members and purchase the lock and camera for around $250.

Shoppers will be able to chose the in-home delivery option from the Amazon site or app. When the delivery driver arrives, they will first knock and scan the package. Amazon will confirm that they are at the right house and then unlock the door with no need for codes or keys. The indoor camera will record the entire in-home delivery process and users will be able to livestream or view recorded video. Walmart is also testing a similar service that includes dropping off packages and even stocking your fridge with groceries.

Amazon says the new service will be available Nov. 8th in 37 cities, including Atlanta. The smart lock and camera will be available to grant access to guests, housekeepers, dog walkers or anyone else you might want to let into your home. For package deliveries, Amazon does recommend keeping your pets away from having access to the front door.

Would you feel comfortable with this service? Let us know in the comments!

 

Posted in Misc
July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

Receive the Latest Local Market Stats

Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates