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Walton County property values soar

Discussion in 'Real Estate' started by SoWalSally, Aug 25, 2005.

  1. SoWalSally

    SoWalSally Beach Fanatic

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    Walton County Property Appraiser Patrick Pilcher found himself doing plenty of double takes as he was calculating property values for this year.
    The reason for Pilcher?s surprise is that property values in Walton County are up 57.5 percent ? to $12.8 billion ? this year.
    Last year, Pilcher was ?astonished? when values rose 26 percent. This year, astonished doesn?t begin to describe his thoughts about the real estate market.
    ?It?s hard to believe,? Pilcher said. ?We?ve had to do a lot of verification. Some of those numbers don?t appear to make good common sense. But the market is what it is.?
    Property values increased more moderately elsewhere along the Emerald Coast.
    In Okaloosa County, they rose 26.5 percent to $13.6 billion, and in Santa Rosa County, they rose 11 percent to $6.6 billion. Last year, values rose about 9 percent in Okaloosa and Santa Rosa.
    The jumps mean home and business owners will pay more even as tax rates remain steady. It also means local governments will have more money to fund projects from stormwater improvements to hiring more police officers.
    ?This is certainly a welcome adjustment,? said Okaloosa County Commission chairman Bill Roberts. ?It helps us catch up in so many ways.?
    In Walton County, the numbers grow more moderate the farther north you go, as values are up 21 percent in Freeport and 8 percent in DeFuniak Springs.
    In Okaloosa County, the increases were spread fairly evenly from north to south. Destin posted the biggest gain at nearly 39 percent, but Laurel Hill, the smallest and most northern city, came in second at 28 percent.
    Laurel Hill, which has a population of less than 600, does not charge property taxes but has recently begun the process to implement them.
    While Laurel Hill Mayor James Dunn is excited about the rising property values and growth coming to the town, which has a fair number of elderly residents, he has concerns about its impact on people who don?t have much money.
    ?How will it affect the people on fixed income?? Dunn said. ?How will it affect the people who count their pennies to buy drugs every month?
    ?Some people will suffer from this. People might have to sell some property to keep up with the increased costs.?
    Dunn said property in Laurel Hill had been cheap for a long time, but now it?s beginning to change. Land that used to sell for $1,700 per acre is going for $10,000 per acre, he said.
    While new construction was up in 2004, it didn?t account for much of the increases in Okaloosa and Walton. The biggest factor was the resale prices of homes.
    New construction was responsible for 11 percent of Walton?s $4.7 billion increase in property values and 16 percent of Okaloosa?s $2.8 billion jump. However, new construction accounted for 47 percent of Santa Rosa?s $651 million increase.
    Property appraisers calculate values based on an analysis of what nearby property has sold for the previous year.
    ?We don?t have crystal balls,? said Okaloosa Property Appraiser Pete Smith. ?Buyers and sellers determine what the value of property is.?
    State law caps the increase at 3 percent for residential property that is eligible for a homestead exemption. However, most of the property sold near the gulf tends to be for vacation home or investment purposes and is not eligible for the exemption.
    Smith said most of the people who complain about skyrocketing appraisals live outside of Florida and don?t have a full grasp of the area?s real estate conditions.
    ?They love the values, but they don?t like them when it comes time to pay taxes,? Smith said.
    John Paulsen, owner of Crye Leike Realty, said lately the market has cooled. He said property is taking longer to sell and there are about four times the number of homes on the market now compared to a year ago.
    ?It?s calmed down somewhat,? Paulsen said. ?This being a resort town, it?s going to do well.?
    However, Paulsen is predicting steady growth for coastal areas. He said prices in South Walton haven?t peaked, as a condominium that goes for $1 million there would sell for $2 million in Naples.
    Pilcher said some people are beginning to cash out of the boom in South Walton and head north.
    ?A lot of people seem to be selling out of Freeport, and some in South Walton are, too, and moving north,? Pilcher said.
    Walton County Commissioner Cindy Meadows said she expected to see parts of north Walton grow.
    ?People are discovering it,? Meadows said. ?It?s a good value. It will grow exponentially.?
    The trend of growth filtering upward toward the Alabama border is something that Okaloosa is experiencing, and Dunn has mixed emotions about it.
    ?It?s a little frightening to think about how it will impact some folks,? Dunn said. ?On the flipside, Laurel Hill is experiencing services and jobs that it hasn?t had. It?s exciting for young people.?
     
  2. Rita

    Rita margarita brocolia

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    Informative post. Thank you.
     
  3. Beach Runner

    Beach Runner beats on hood

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    According to someone on CNN, property values all over the country will soar due to Katrina. It has to do not only with the outflux of people from NOLA and the Mississippi Gulf Coast who need housing, but the demand for building materials as a result of reconstruction in the areas that were demolished by the storm. The price of building materials will increase due to sipply and demand. This will have a domino effect throughout the country and will also make existing residences more valuable as a result.

    I'm no expert on this subject, but it makes sense to me.
     
  4. SHELLY

    SHELLY SoWal Insider

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    What good are increased property values if no one can afford to buy--oh, I forgot--they will increase property taxes.....great news for county tax collectors, not so great news for second-home owners and investors!
     
  5. Beach Runner

    Beach Runner beats on hood

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    Some people on this board have been freaking out about property values declining on 30-A. I guess your point of view depends on if you are a buyer or a seller. If you are just holding on to your property, increased taxes are a problem, but your net worth is up.

    Dunno. There are experts on this board that can discuss this more intelligently than I can. I was simply reporting what I heard on the news.
     
  6. skier

    skier Beach Lover

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    Soaring property taxes are definitely a double edged sword.

    My taxes will be well over $12,000. In looking at the Walton County website, it doesn't look like any of the property tax assessed values have been updated. I really want to compare my values to other homes around me to see if mine went up an inordinate amount. Has anyone done any comparisons to neighbors yet to see if your increase was reasonable?

    Just curious.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2005
  7. pk305

    pk305 Beach Fanatic

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    I have a question regarding property taxes. Has the NEW budget been approved yet, or is there still hope that property taxes will be based on OLD budget?? Any info on this would be greatly appreciated. THANKS!
     
  8. TooFarTampa

    TooFarTampa SoWal Insider

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    I'm wondering if they waited to update the site until after the deadline for petitioning assessed values (which was last week). It would not surprise me. I wanted to know the same thing about Seacrest, although since the assessed value on our house was a bit less than 80 percent of the price we paid in 2004, we don't have much room to complain -- even though the assessed value went up by 65 percent from '04 to '05.
     
  9. Smiling JOe

    Smiling JOe SoWal Expert

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    I guess CNN read my post regarding this matter a few days after Katrina struck. :D I don't know how much it will effect the higher end homes, but the entry level homes in this area will surely increase. The builders have more flexibility in the higher priced homes.
     
  10. Dabell

    Dabell Beach Fanatic

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    My taxes also went up about 1/3 more. I called the county ( walton) and she told me that, the price I paid for my home 2 years ago is long gone and what the county says" I can sell ($$$) for IS what the county taxes my home on. So that means I can count on my home value is up 1/3 more than I paid for it. And that means my taxes are rated on that. So, lets say you were paying ( 9's are eazy) $900.00 in taxes now you are paying $1,200 in taxes. Now what they are saying if you paid ( 9's again) 90,000 for a home in Walton County,your home is now worth 120,000.
     
  11. Smiling JOe

    Smiling JOe SoWal Expert

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    It sounds like the county is being fairly lenient.
     
  12. Dabell

    Dabell Beach Fanatic

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    Well, The County Understands that, the market is and will always go up and down. The County has to base the tax on an stable climb.
     

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