Atlanta Foreclosures for Sale Rose, Affecting Census, Taxes

by Donald Hanz on cities

Atlanta foreclosures for sale surged again in March, affecting census and property taxation in the metro area.

In metro Atlanta, a total of 12,568 properties were hit with default notices and foreclosure filings in March, a 24-percent increase from total filings in March 2009. The number included commercial and home foreclosures, but the huge majority of filings were residential.

The continuing surge in foreclosed homes has multiplied the problems of census employees sent to check on households who have not sent back their 2010 survey forms. Every abandoned home that they would see would mean another variance in their final count, as the family that left may have doubled up with another family that has not included the new family in their census report.

Missed counts will also affect future federal funding for Atlanta and the state of Georgia, as federal allocations are based on population. If a number of families are not counted because they have moved out of the state, then funding will be balanced. But if these families not surveyed are still in Atlanta or in other parts of Georgia, they would share in the services allotted for families included in the census.

Similarly, Atlanta foreclosures for sale have also been affecting tax payments and revenues. For tax officials, the sharp reduction in the tax base means sharply reduced revenues. For homeowners, the real estate tax assessments, even if they have been reduced, are still too high compared to the values of their properties.

One homeowner who purchased a fixer upper for only $10,000 is now facing a tax payment of more than $2,000, nearly 25 percent of the price he paid for his house.

According to the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, neighborhoods clobbered by foreclosures and low property values will overpay in property taxes because the tax assessments remain the same despite the sharp drops in prices.

John O’Callahan, head of the partnership, estimated that every family in low-income neighborhoods will overpay the property tax by $1,300 and that these neighborhoods will overpay by almost $130 million in real estate taxes.

Other cities in the state are also expected to overpay as foreclosures in Georgia are still surging. Foreclosure postings statewide climbed up by 20 percent year-over-year to more than 12,100 filings in February. Included in these filings are a number of Atlanta foreclosures for sale that comprised a huge portion of the more than 3,714 units already repossessed by banks in February.