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Understanding Your Property Taxes


Eddie Creamer, Property Appraiser
This is Eddie Creamer, Property Appraiser for St. Johns County, FL.

Understanding your property tax bill and the property appraisal process is an important piece of your home ownership journey. Knowing about homestead and other exemptions can save you a ton of money on your property taxes annually. Did you know when you move within the state of Florida, your homestead savings can port with you to your new home, keeping your taxable value low even on the new property? Did you know there are other exemptions, such as veteran and senior exemptions for those who qualify, that can be as much as $250k?! Trim notices come out on Aug 16, 2019. Most people ignore these because your mortgage lender pays your tax bill from an escrow account, but did you know you have 25 days to petition to appeal your taxable property value if you feel it is too high? Eddie Creamer, Property Appraiser for St.Johns County, gave out some excellent insight today so if you have any questions about property appraisal, please let me know and we can explore it together. 

Below are notes from the NEFAR (NorthEast Florida Association of Realtors) St.Johns Council meeting at Markland subdivision in WGV on April 17, 2019. Eddie Creamer, property appraiser, was the main guest of honor. His in-depth discussion of his role as property appraiser included the following highlights and details:

The property appraisers office assesses property values based on use, condition, and ownership as of Jan 1st. So if you are using it as a rental unit on January 1st, you cannot claim homestead on the property. That date is literal, exact and not pro-rated. For example, if you only rent out your home for the Christmas holiday only, and live in the home as your main residence from Jan 2-Dec 20, you still cannot claim homestead because it is a rental ON January 1st

Real property assessments are figured through the residential approach:  fair value as appraised in mass based on sales.  Commercial property assessments are figured through the income approach.

The office of appraisal does consider differences in the county, such as north and south of  the 16 and 208 line, as they are considered two distinct areas, and they also use sub-markets to better assess home values.

Assessments are based on the exterior only, with common fixtures, but not internal upgrades or needs. Aerial photography is used to determine additional square footage or exterior improvements or detriments that could effect assessed value. They bought drones to assess more frequently and with more accuracy. They have 3D imagery and the detail to the home is phenomenal. If they can see your roof, they can get within 2% of total square feet of your home. Field appraisers are available if we cannot see home from aerial. Desktop appraisals are done as well using all Realtor tools. The property appraiser website is robust, upgraded, and has a lot more tools now than ever before.

The property appraisers office also is in charge of maintaining maps and GIS for St. Johns County which includes over 142k parcels. Growth is happening – they added 4200 parcels to tax role last year alone. 

Homestead portability – Save our Homes says if you homestead, tax cannot go up more than 3% per year inside the State of Florida. You may rent home no more than 30 days in 2 consecutive tax years and still claim Homestead Exemption. You cannot claim homestead anywhere else in United States to be eligible for Florida Homestead Exemption.  There are many different exemptions on top of homestead exemption to help you save on taxable assessed value:

Veteran exemption – different levels and exemption amounts based on active deployed, disabled (disability depends on percentage of disability you are claiming).  

Senior exemption is an income based $50k exemption. You must make $30,174 or LESS on income tax return as your adjusted gross income to qualify for this exemption.

Total exemption: You must have lived in your current home for 25 years for a full exemption up to $250k remainder value of your home. 

Florida Taxpayer Bill of Rights – 

Trim notice comes out on August 16th, 2019. 

There is a 25 day appeal period. You can petition your assessed value and any exceptions with the value adjustment board.  The sales in your area link is what comparable properties were used in deriving the assessed value of your home.

Tax calculator – remember when purchasing property to check how many exemptions may be on the property when reviewing their prior tax bills. Exemptions and Portability goes with the seller, so that last tax bill might be a lot less than what you will pay as the new owner. The most accurate way to estimate taxes for the first year of home ownership is to calculate 85% of the paid value.

The goal of the property appraisers office is total transparency.  This information is provided to you to educate and prepare, and make the best decisions for home and property ownership.

For more information, please visit the Property Appraiser website at . They are conveniently located at 4030 Lewis Speedway St. Augustine, FL 32084 (off US 1, just before the old city gates).

If you have further questions about home ownership in St. John’s County, please contact Stephanie at . I can provide an in-depth review of your current house value, including reviewing your current tax record. We can also review the value of a future property for homestead or rental, or even commercial. Let me know how I can help!

What is a CDD fee?


Some properties reside in communities that are part of a Community Development District (“CDD”) created pursuant to Chapter 190, Florida Statutes. By acceptance of the deed conveying the property, the buyer will be obligated to pay all taxes, fees and assessments imposed by the CDD.

The community development district imposes CDD assessments, on certain properties through a special taxing district. These assessments pay the construction, operation, and maintenance costs of certain public facilities and services of the district and are set annually by the governing board of the district. These assessments are in addition to county and other local governmental taxes and assessments and all other taxes and assessments provided for by law and homeowner’s or condominium association assessments and fees. The present amount of the annual cdd assessments in each community is different and can be vastly varying from house to house even within a community, depending on the decisions of the prior homeowner to pay it down early or not.

CDD assessments are paid in advance, not in arrears, and will be prorated at closing. The CDD fees are included in your tax bill and are escrowed with your property taxes if you have a mortgage. There is usually an HOA fee on top of the CDD fee, however typically when there is a CDD fee, the HOA fee is nominal in comparison.  HOA fees are not part of your tax bill, and are billed separately and not part of escrow.

Because each community is different, we can use a sample property in the community to review the tax records and see what the current CDD is on that property based on public tax records.

As a buyer, try not to eliminate a community simply because it has a CDD fee. Often there are wonderful amenities in these communities that the CDD covers, and you just might love it there! Remember that the developer and builders are going to pass along the cost of the amenities to you somehow, so it’s either in the CDD fee, the HOA fees, or the price of the home itself.

Always have your Realtor research and compare all fees for each community you may be interested in so you are looking at the whole picture as you make your new home selection. Ultimately it comes down to affordability and filling your needs and wants. A CDD fee is just one piece of the pie. Contact me today to help determine which communities include a CDD as part of their tax bill. I’ll be glad to help you on your Real Estate journey.

The Price is Right


Ready to Sell? Getting the Price Right is a Great Start

For would-be home sellers, it's hard to beat the allure of the Northeast Florida real estate market. Job growth, attractive communities, beautiful scenery, excellent schools and superb quality of life make it a place where people want to live and buy homes. Not to mention Florida offers favorable tax treatment relative to other states! And in recent years, high demand has allowed sellers to net more with fewer days on the market. Still, Sellers need to be savvy about how they place their property on the market. Research tells us that setting the correct initial list price is one of the most important decisions to be made. When a home is overpriced and price reductions are necessary, it can take much longer to sell and typically results in a lower price. One reason: When we list a home on the market, it receives a great amount of attention and "splash" during the first 30 days because of wide-ranging marketing efforts to attract the current buyer pool. The current buyer pool is comprised of everyone searching for a home that started looking today, yesterday, last week, last month, and sometimes even last year. It is a powerful group of potential buyers. If the listing is overpriced, it causes potential buyers to ignore it or even worse, it may cause other homes to sell based on perceived value of those homes relative to the overpriced listing. Once this happens, it is often difficult to gain the attention of this buyer pool again without a price adjustment. The second issue that occurs with overpriced listings is increased "days on market". As days on market add up, buyers wonder if there is an issue with the home, diminishing the sellers negotiating power. If you are considering selling your home, the key is to start with a thorough pricing analysis so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not to sell and at what price.

Call me to learn the value of your home so you can make great decisions based on real time market data.

~Courtesy of BHHS Insider, quarterly local update for Northeast Florida

So you want to buy a house?


Top 3 things you should consider when you decide you are ready to buy a house:

#1: Check your credit. Many banks offer free credit scores without pulling your actual credit. Check the credit score for all decision makers. If lower than needed for loan qualification, consult with a mortgage consultant or credit repair service who can guide you on the best way to raise your credit score for the purposes of purchasing a home. Once your credit score is good, get that pre-approval and make sure it fits within your budget. Just because the bank approves you for a loan does not mean you can afford the payments.

#2: Make sure all decision makers are on the same page. Have you discussed the move and potential home purchase? Have you each written down your wish list? Did you find enough matches to start a home search in a specific area?

#3: Choose a Realtor. Real estate agents come into the business with various backgrounds and numerous specialties and varying degrees of education. Make sure their personality is a good fit for you too. You will be working with this person on possibly the largest purchase of your life, and you want to use a Realtor you know, like and trust.  A Realtor is there to guide and protect you in the real estate transaction, even (and maybe especially) in dealings with new home construction.

St. Augustine is #1 for Golfers!


Read the full article here ---> Best Places for Golfers to Live in America


Florida's northeast coast is one of the nation's most underrated golf destinations. A visit to St. Augustine will show you why. The nation's oldest city boasts the World Golf Village with its two modern championship courses, Slammer & Squire and the King & Bear, plus the World Golf Hall of Fame, which welcomes five new members this coming week. Add the island green at the TPC Sawgrass, and much more, just a short drive north on I-95 and you have a golf life that's second to none.

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