Posted on June 01, 2021 in: Guest Column
When I am at various speaking engagements, community events, or any other location around Citrus County that I am interacting with the public the most common question I get asked is, “How does your office determine the value of my house or property?”. Hopefully, I will be able to share some insights on how our office and other Property Appraiser’s offices around the state value your residential property.
Florida law requires that the Citrus County Property Appraiser’s office determine the value of all real property (real estate) and tangible personal property, for example business equipment and rental furnishings, as of January 1st of each year. So, when you get your Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice in August or Tax Bill in November from the Tax Collectors office this year, it will be based off data that was collected January 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. The TRIM notice allows you to review your parcel summary for accuracy. The staff at the Citrus County Property Appraiser’s office is always available to help you understand this TRIM notice or answer any questions regarding your property appraisals, exemptions, assessment caps or specifically how the changing real estate market may affect you. Please don’t throw it away even though it is not a bill. Open it and review it for accuracy. If you have any questions, please call a member of my staff so that we may assist you.
As mentioned, the Property Appraiser’s Office appraises the value of all residential, commercial and agricultural properties, and tangible personal property in Citrus County. Today, we will solely concentrate on the residential component of our office and our legal responsibility.
Throughout the year, our staff collects data and by July, the market values are determined and the taxing authorities begin the process to set their millage rates. We use a state-of-the-art Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) system to continuously process property data from local and industry sources and field inspections. Every year we update property values based on the market conditions as of January 1.
The first step in our assessment process for residential areas is to determine your home’s market value, by considering what it would cost to replace your home and the sales prices of similar homes in the area. “Market” value is based on the current real estate market by discovering the price most people would pay for your property in its current condition in the open market. It is very important to understand that the Citrus County Property Appraiser’s Office understands current market conditions to make a determination of a fair market value for ad-valorem tax purposes. The values are set by the buyers and sellers in the real estate market place. The Citrus County Property Appraiser office’s legal responsibility is to study the transactions mentioned above and appraise your property accordingly.
The next step is to review all improvements to your property. So, if something has been removed from your property, we can take that off of your parcel. Per Florida State Statue we also must conduct a physical inspection at least every five years through on-site visits or review of aerial photography. Here at the Citrus County Property Appraiser’s office, we assign a specific field appraiser and certified appraiser to specific areas so they are familiar and experts in your particular neighborhood. We only want to value your property for what is fair and equitable, nothing more and nothing less.
On January 1, 1995, our Florida Constitution was amended to limit any annual increase in the assessed value of residential property with a homestead exemption, also known as “Save Our Homes”, to three percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. This is a huge benefit to our residential property owners where the home you reside in permanently receives this amazing exemption of up to $50,000. It would save you roughly $750 - $1,000 each year. If you have previously applied and been granted the homestead exemption this year’s cap is 1.4%. This is the lowest it has been since 2016. This CAP only applies to existing homestead properties. If this year is your base/first year you are set at market and then the years following you would benefit from the Save Our Homes 3% or Consumer Price Index (CPI) which is determined by the State of Florida annually. Any new construction or additions to a home that has Homestead Exemptions would be outside the CAP for that year and under the umbrella moving forward. This is an explanation of how the CAP works once the homestead exemption is established.
I cannot stress the importance of filing for your Homestead Exemption. Remember, I only want to value your property for what is fair and equitable. Other very important exemptions include: widow, widower, permanently disabled, veterans and first responder, religious, charitable and educational exemptions.