Time to reduce your property taxes!

by | Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bradenton / Sarasota – As each year, you will receive a letter from your Property Appraiser with the new 2015 TRIM (values) notices within the next few days referring to each parcel you own in Florida.Property Tax assessment

This letter does not ask for any immediate payment. This letter just tells you how much your property appraiser thinks your property is worth when selling it – consequently the amount you will be taxed upon 2 months later. And it triggers the beginning of the petition period to get the value formally correct if needed. Once the bill comes, it’s too late to dispute, so better act now.

We see values raising, especially for valuation purposes. In order to understand how the valuation system works:
The property appraiser is getting notified by the taxcollector and court about each sale. For the 2015 tax valuation, only sales before 01-01-2015 are relevant. So forget all 2015 sales, focus on 2014 and before.

The property appraiser then calculates values for each property through a mass appraisal system. Although property appraisers were required by the Florida Constitution to gather an objective value, they use – in our eyes – some “questionable” methods. First all distressed sales are disqualified per se and entered into the valuation system. This is a violation of Bulletin PTO 08-22 which clearly states that distressed sales should be considered as long as they are qualified arm’s length transactions – which typical REO / Short Sales are. But they disqualify nevertheless.

Property appraisers tend to overvalue properties

On the other hand, the property appraisers never had a problem considering sales as qualified during the “hype” when lenders gave out loans to people not really able to repay. This highly contributed to the 2005/2006 hype with downturn in following years. Anybody just owning property was severely penalized during that time and thereafter until values got back to real numbers. We need to understand, at that time almost nobody paid cash with earned money. There were tons of “funny money” available for speculation which contributed to a big bubble. People outside that speculation system suffered due to inflated prices and property taxes.

So we conclude: Property appraisers tend not to consider low (REO) sales by systematically disqualifying them, but they include inflated sales with mortgages from people never able to repay. Sounds pretty unfair, doesn’t it?

What is the solution?

First you need to understand that assessed values typically vary between 50% and 90% of the true value. That is the range a property should be valued at. In the past, let’s say 10 or 20 years ago, it was pretty common that properties were valued at 50% of their market value or below. This might still be the case today for some properties, but you have no legal right to be on the low end of that range with your valuation.

That said, it gets interesting if your valuation exceeds 85% to 90% of the true market value. Property appraisers have to account for the typical sale expenses you encounter when selling, that’s usually considered at 15% of the sales price. So that’s why we are talking about 85% to 90% of the true value when it makes sense to question the assessment.

In order to do so, we suggest getting a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) for your property. It’s like a simple appraisal without all that formality. Once you get the numbers and past sales you get the opportunity to review your tax valuation and use this CMA as evidence against the valuation with the Property Appraiser.

Usually Property Appraisers tend to correct the value before formal dispute is necessary. However once the deadline comes, we suggest filing a formal dispute. It’s only a $15 fee to keep the file open. The evidence does not need to be in at that time, just don’t miss the deadline.

Let’s do the math:

Preliminary value of your property by property appraiser: $200,000
Our CMA valuation shows: $150,000

Property appraiser agrees to $160,000 just by requesting a review based on the CMA. So no attorney fees, no legal expenses and maybe an hour of time at that point.

At 2% tax rate, this equals savings of $800 for the 1st year alone.

And don’t forget:
Due to how the mass appraisal system works, there are good chances next years assessments will be gathered on the revised value as basis. So reducing your value now usually helps getting more savings over the next several years.

Now it’s time to act:

We offer this tax saving CMA for free to you.*

There is a $200 protective charge due when ordering the CMA and you’ll get that amount fully credited when you buy or sell a property in your County within the next 5 years and use us as your Agent*. When you sell, we’ll deduct from our commission, when you buy, you’ll get a refund at closing. Simple as that. Our commission is the standard commission and we never charge any junk fees like the big companies do.

Our goal is not to earn money by providing this service, but to introduce you to our reliable real estate services, earn your referrals and fight for justice in a broken tax system.

We cannot guarantee your valuation to be be reduced as in the example above, nor that the numbers will proof an incorrect assessment in your specific case. However we feel your best chances to get a reduction is to check if your valuation is correct today.

You can order your CMA here. Our turn around time is 2 workdays M-F.

You will also get a free email template you can use to send your file to your property appraisor for review.


If the property appraiser fails to correct outside the formal dispute process you still have the option to seek the formal process or hire an attorney. However it is a wise idea to get the numbers in place before further expenses. And of course the attorney can use the CMA as evidence as well.

*Not applicable with any other offer. Credit limited to 10% of our commission received. Minimum transaction value to qualify for refund 100,000. We must act as your buyer or seller agent.

We currently serve Manatee, Sarasota, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Desoto, Charlotte, Orange and Hardee Counties in Florida.


Sea to Sky Realty

The Florida Real Estate Company with the GERMAN Twist!

Axel and Bea Weiss

Bradenton, Florida 34205

(941) 866 1666