The Florida county property appraisers mailed out their annual TRIM (Truth In Millage) notices in the last couple of weeks. Many people don't give too much thought to these. But that sentiment has changed some in the last few years as values spiked tremendously but have not gone down nearly as much.
The local governments will tell you how terrible it is and how broke they are, but in looking at the taxes being paid now and then comparing them to what was paid back in 2004 or so, the dollar amount is not much different. Makes you wonder just how broke they really are when they are getting the same amount of tax dollars or more then they were back then. But government waste and stupidity is a story for a different day.
The fact is that you can challenge your assessed value if you do not believe it is accurate. The value is actually about a year behind, so the value your property is worth today is not what matters. The value on the TRIM notice is supposed to be the value it was worth on January 1, 2010. In order to challenge the value, you must use comparable sales from the last half of 2009 as justification. Any challenges must be made prior to the deadline listed on the notice which is September 20, 2010 for Orange County, Florida and September 14, 2010 for Seminole County, Florida.
After doing some research, I found 2 of my rental properties that I thought were being over-assessed. So I made a phone call down to the Orange County property appraiser's office last Friday. They were actually very helpful and friendly on the phone and I have found it best to not be confrontational with people especially with government employees or else you might not get anything accomplished without a real fight.
One of my properties is in an area with a very high foreclosure rate, in fact I pulled about 40 nearby comparable sales and only 1 was not a short sale or bank owned REO. When that is all there is available for comps, the appraiser's office has to take that distressed comp into consideration. I was able to get my assessed value reduced from $89,000 to $59,000. That's about $550 in tax savings.
On my other property, the appraiser actually sent me a nice CMA with adjustments showing how their value was accurate. I was able to debunk the location and square footage of 2 of the comps the assessor used in order to show why they really were poor comps. That got my assessment reduced from $80,000 to $64,000 and a little over $300 in savings.
Not bad for about 90 minutes of my time and a few phone calls and emails back and forth. If you need help determining your home's value in Central Florida, feel free to contact me.