This is the week of proposed property tax statements across South Florida. By now the county’s property appraiser has sent out proposed assessments and most homeowners should have received them. That’s the easy to understand part of what’s happened. The more complicated aspects are often understanding what you’re looking at when you get it in the mail.
First, it's the “proposed” rate for a reason. These aren’t the final taxes you’ll have to pay. You have until mid-September to contest or challenge your assessment with your property appraiser’s office. This can include contacting them to clarify or correct information that might be incorrect regarding your property. Remember they can’t see what’s inside your home, for example, or formally challenge your assessment in a hearing if you have unresolved issues/concerns regarding your assessed value.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that the assessed value is based on current market values and conditions. It’s not. These assessments are based on 2018’s values. This year, the increases by county look like this:
Those are obviously huge increases yet again. That means that for a non-homesteaded property, you’ll likely see increases on your taxes that are along those lines. For homesteaded property, the increase this year is capped at 1.9% above last year’s increase, excluding school taxes. That’s because the CPI, or consumer price index averaged 1.9% last year. Let's move to the value proposition of buying vs. renting.
For years rent rates have been rising faster than the cost of buying a home and making a mortgage payment. Property taxes play a huge role in that reasoning. Landlords will generally pass the property tax increases along to renters. Huge increases with property taxes throughout South Florida again, there's every reason to think that trend will continue. Conversely, mortgage rates are currently near record lows and it’s already cheaper to buy and make a mortgage payment than it is to rent and pay the landlord for the same type of property. If you’re planning on being in place for a minimum of three years, you should be trying to buy asap.
Finally, pay attention to each of the lines on your property tax bill. That’s where the money for the roof over your head is going. We often pay the least amount of attention to local politics, yet it often has the biggest impact on our daily lives.
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