Q&A on the News

Q: Are there other advantages to filing an appeal to lower property taxes? What effect will a lower assessment have on a property if a person decides to sell his home? Would a lower assessment make that person even more upside down on his mortgage? Also, wouldn’t a person lose a portion of the property tax deduction if he itemizes for income tax purposes?

-- Lydia Howard, Stone Mountain

A: The only reason to file an appeal is to lower your annual property tax payment, Richard W. Martin, associate professor of real estate at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business, told Q&A on the News in an e-mail. He wrote that in theory, a lower assessment should have no effect as the assessed value is supposed to reflect the property's market price. "In practice, however, the assessed value could be one of the pieces of information that a prospective buyer uses in determining their offer price. Because of this, a lower assessment could lead to a lower offer from a prospective buyer," he said. He said a lower assessment will not make a homeowner more upside down on a mortgage. The extent to which a borrower is upside-down depends solely on the relationship between the mortgage balance and the property's market value, he wrote. "An appraiser's estimate of market value should be independent of the property's assessed value," he wrote. A homeowner who pays less in property taxes will have a lower deduction, but Martin wrote that this concern should be secondary to the fact that you are paying less in property taxes because your property is not worth as much.

Lori Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or e-mail q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).