Gary Schneider sent this to me this morning. Important news for all of us real estate owners:
Did you know that House Bill 521 was passed and signed into law? The Bill transfers the burden of proof from the homeowner to the Property Appraiser's office in property value disputes. In the past, if you wanted to challenge the Property Appraiser's assessment, you had to prove he was wrong; now the Property Appraiser will no longer have the assumption of correctness, so he will now have to prove he is right. Over the next five years, Florida homeowners and owners of business, rental, or second-home properties are expected to save more than $2.1 billion due to the change in the law.
After receiving this email, I called the Alachua County Property Appraiser's office and spoke with JD Durrance. Isn't it funny how there are always at least two good sides to every story. He knew of the bill immediately and shared some concerns that, although this bill was presented as helping the everyday consumer, it might actually end up benefiting the big companies that are hired to fight property valuations for large scale properties. JD reminded me that his office always tries to work with people and rarely goes in front of the Magistrate.
JD shared with me the 8 Factors that determine the valuation criteria for properties. If you do have legitmate concerns about the valuation of your property, prepare to speak in these terms, as that should help your case whether you are working it out or taking it to the review board.
It would be interesting to hear from one of these companies, and I've heard they don't settle or negotiate. They go straight to the value adjustment hearing. With the changes to whom has the burden of proof and the prevailing party's entitlement to attorney's fees, a small, cash-strapped county like Alachua may not have the resources to take on these corporate giants.
On the surface, this looked like much needed relief for our local community homeowners. Only time will tell.