Thursday, August 18, 2011

Surfside, FL residents may see reduced tax bills this fall after town commissioners adopted a lower tax rate

What you need to know: Even with a lower Tax rate, you may still be paying more in Taxes than you should.  The County may have improperly assessed your property/building.  The County uses Mass appraisal practices so they typically do not know the specifics about YOUR property.  We can look at your property and give you an idea on its value.

Surfside residents will likely keep a little more of their money next year after town commissioners adopted a lower property tax rate for 2011-2012. The new rate is $5.50 or every $1,000 of assessed property value, which is down from last year’s $5.60.

Martin Sherwood, Surfside’s finance director, said that nearly all property owners in town will pay less in taxes.

Surfside’s new tax rate still needs to go before the commission during two budget hearings before taking effect Oct. 1, the start of the 2011-12 fiscal year. During that process, commissioners can lower the tax rate even more, but can only raise it under very specific and costly circumstances — an option few municipalities ever exercise.

Sherwood said the town was able to lower the tax rate despite a 5 percent dip in property assessments.
The reason: City officials thought the dip in property revenue would have been even steeper, given the countywide trend in recent years.

“We had assumed a valuation decrease of 6.5 percent for next year’s budget,” Sherwood said.
The 1.5 percent difference left about $81,000 in wiggle room for the new budget, which is about $30 million.
Sherwood said the town will also be able to cut expenses by reducing its contributions to the employee pension plan, which is funded at about 114 percent, by about $158,000.

And while the town did not hire any new employees during this fiscal year, there are three new full-time positions that will be filled in the new fiscal year, including an assistant to Sherwood and an assistant to the town clerk.

Under the proposed tax rate, the owner of a typical Surfside home assessed at $250,000, taking the standard $50,000 homestead exemption, would see a tax cut of about $206.

Longtime homeowners who have benefited from Save Our Homes in the past,
which capped assessment increases at 3 percent a year, will likely see the least reduction to their tax bills. Save Our Homes stipulates that increases must continue annually until they are equal to the market value of the home.

Those figures only include city tax; the county, school district and other local agencies have additional levies.
The two public budget hearings are scheduled for 5:01 p.m. Sept. 13 and Sept. 26 at Surfside Town Hall, 9293 Harding Ave.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FDLE Supervisor Busted for Homestead Exemption Fraud

  The Lesson: Do not file a Homestead Exemption on your income producing property.  All it takes is one person that you have upset filing a complaint.  It just is not worth it.  While you do not qualify for the 3% cap, you do receive a 10% cap.

Key West agent claimed homestead exemption on house he didn't live in, investigators said

Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials had to arrest one of their own Wednesday.
Vincent Weiner, a supervisor in the Key West Field Office, has been charged with grand theft and fraud after he allegedly made false claims on his property taxes, FDLE investigators said.

Weiner has worked for FDLE for nearly 20 years, but it's his property taxes from the past three years that caught investigators' attention.

After receiving a complaint about Weiner's property tax documents in April, officials began to take a closer look at Weiner's property tax claims, officials said.

They found that from 2007 to 2010 Weiner had been claiming a homestead exemption on a home he didn't live in, officials said.

The false claim resulted in close to $6,000 in tax exemptions Weiner didn't deserve, investigators said.
Weiner has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

It was unclear if he had an attorney.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Miami Residential Sales Spike 49% in 2Q, Reflects Strength of the Market

(MIAMI, FL) -- Based on a new report from the Miami Association of Realtors, the Miami Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), sales of homes - including existing single-family homes and condominiums - increased 49 percent, from 4,557 to 6,768, in the second quarter of 2011 and 15 percent from the previous quarter. This rise marks 12 consecutive quarters, since the third quarter of 2008, of increasing sales.

The Miami MSA posted the highest sales increases of any major metro area for condominiums and of all single-family home markets in Florida.  Miami sales of existing single-family homes increased 31 percent compared to a year earlier.  The sales of existing condominiums in Miami spiked 62 percent compared to the second quarter of 2010.  Statewide sales of single-family homes increased 1 percent while that of condominiums increased 14 percent.  Nationally, total state existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, declined 5.4 percent compared to the first quarter of 2011 and were 12.7 percent below the second quarter of 2010.

"Miami sales have increased consistently for nearly three years," said Jack H. Levine, 2011 Chairman of the Board of the Miami Association of Realtors.  "Residential sales have exceeded last year's levels, which were boosted by the homebuyer tax credit.  International buyers and investors continue to fuel the Miami real estate market unlike any other in the U.S., resulting in rapid inventory absorption."

Vanessa Grout, CEO and President of Douglas Elliman Florida tells the World Property Channel, "The increase in 2Q Miami sales activity is due to the continual clearing of distressed sales and an increasing confidence in the value of our isolated submarket. The Miami housing market is hot because buyers perceive the worth in owning property in such a vibrant area. When a property in Miami is priced correctly it does sell."

Median Sales Prices

Short sales and foreclosures continue to have an impact on median and average sales prices for both single-family homes and condominiums especially in some areas of the county.

The median sales price for single-family homes in Miami-Dade dropped only nine percent to $178,800 in the first quarter.  The median sales price for condominiums dropped six percent to $119,800.  Statewide, median sales prices dropped five percent to $134,600 for single-family homes and two percent to $94,700 for condominiums.  The national median existing single-family home price was $171,900 in the second quarter, down 2.8 percent from $176,800 in the second quarter of 2010.

"Current Miami sales levels are reflective of a healthy and balanced marketplace," said Miami  Association of Realtors Residential President Ralph E. De Martino.  "While distressed sales are still impacting home prices to some degree, many local areas and buildings throughout South Florida have been experiencing rising values for quite some time.  We also continue to see extreme demand for bank-owned properties, resulting in multiple offers and a dwindling supply."

Inventory Levels

Total housing inventory in Miami-Dade County has decreased 39 percent from a year ago and 13 percent from the previous quarter.  Since August 2008, when home sales began to rise, local inventory has declined 64 percent.

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