Southern DeKalb areas sees larger property value increases


Likely attributed to a pick up in new construction in the area, several areas in south DeKalb have seen large increases in property values when compared to areas in the northern areas of the county.

DeKalb County Chief Appraiser Calvin Hicks said property sales and ownership, new commercial and residential developments—compared with neighboring markets—are large factors in determining a property’s worth.

“Our appraisals should mirror what we are seeing in the various marketplaces,” said Hicks. “Those things that we are looking at are those things that typical buyers and sellers are concerned with because we should be replicating the values that are established by these interactions with buyers and willing sellers.” 

Overall, DeKalb County saw an estimated 9 percent increase in property values, according to 2021 appraisal documents provided by the DeKalb County Property Appraisal Department.

“That growth is going to be a sum of both your reappraisal activity or inflationary values and addition of capital improvements, new construction and things like that,” Hickes said. “…Does all that translate to the bottom line in which mill rates are applied to? The bottom line is no, because there seems to be a slightly greater increase in the number exemptions that must be deducted from those gross values. So while our gross values may have increased between 8.8 and 9 percent, the net maintenance and operation (M&O) values is coming in at about 7 percent for the county.”

While the overall cost of homes remains greater in northern DeKalb areas such as Dunwoody, Lithonia and other areas in the southern part of the county experienced a higher percent of increase in values; According to Zillow, the average home value in Dunwoody is approximately $518,000 and approximately $190,000 in Lithonia.

“For a number of years, the markets that were Decatur north performed better than the markets that were Decatur south,” Hicks explained.  “And what we are now seeing is activity picking up in the southern part of the county to reclaim perhaps some of that value that was lost during the last recession…There’s still a considerable difference in worth of a typical house in Lithonia and worth of a typical house in Dunwoody.”

Brookhaven saw less than a 5 percent increase in property values, Decatur nearly a 6 percent increase, the Chamblee/Doraville area saw an estimated 7 percent increase and Dunwoody an 8 percent increase, according to the appraisal department’s report. Areas that saw some of the largest increases in value include the Gresham Park area at 10.44 percent; McAffee/South Candler area at 10.77 percent; and the Lithonia area at just over 11 percent.

“[Much of the Lithonia area increase] is new construction occurring. As new houses are being added, yes that tends to raise the overall values in a given area because—for one thing—new construction typically costs more [than older properties]. So you have this increase in demand and development in these areas and that sort of causes a rise in overall value in the area,” Hicks said. 

New developments can cause property values to increase; however, all development is not viewed as good development. Certain factors such as a large number of foreclosures concentrated in an area or less desirable new developments can cause property values to decrease.  

“Sometimes the impact of commercial properties on residential properties typically does occur when commercial activity is found to have a negative influence on the values of quality of life there.”

For example, residents in South DeKalb have voiced opinions at county meetings that fewer discount stores and more big box food stores and quality restaurants are desired. 

“What those sentiments express is in order for there to be value and for there to be desirability of an area, it must also have certain services or commercial property, but you don’t want the intrusion of commercial services that are somewhat obnoxious or offensive,” said Hicks, referencing landfills and heavily traveled roadways.

The county uses a combination of methods to assess properties. These include staff visits to properties; viewing real estate websites such as Zillow and MLS; viewing commercial real estate websites; street-level imagery; aerial photography and reviewing approved permits received at city and county levels. 

Property owners should expect to receive the annual assessment notice within the next few weeks. Owners have 45 days to file an appeal if they disagree with the “Current Year Value” displayed on the notice. Complete instructions for filing an appeal will be included with the notice.

As property values have increased overall throughout the county, local governments have begun scheduling public hearing to determine their millage rate, a rate that is multiplied by the assessed value of taxable property to calculate the amount of property tax owed.

As of June 3, below are the entities tentative millage rate, accompanied by its estimated increase in property taxes:

Avondale Estates 9.8 mills, 2.10 percent

Brookhaven: 2.74 mills, 2.09 percent

Chamblee: 6.25 mills, 6.46 percent

Clarkston: 15.89 mills, 9.16 percent

Decatur: 13.92 mills, 2.81 percent

DeKalb County: 9.926 mills, 4.88 percent

Doraville: 9.75 mills, 11.70 percent

Dunwoody: 2.74 mills, no estimated change

Lithonia: Officials said mayor and council have “not had a chance to discuss the millage rate or if they are going to accept the roll back rate resulting in an increase this year.”

Pine Lake: 19.909 mills, 13.29 percent

Stone Mountain: 20 mills, 12.25 percent

Stonecrest: Stonecrest officials denied The Champion Newspaper’s request unless an open records request was submitted, which press time did not allow for.

Tucker: 0.900 mills, 6.38 percent

DeKalb County Board of Education: 23.08, 8.06 percent

City Schools of Decatur: 21 mills, 6.79 percent



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