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Residential property values at issue in Brevard County

Florida residents looking to close on a real estate sale may be interested in a property assessment controversy unfolding in Brevard County. In Florida, real estate tax is based on assessed value, so that value plays an important part in determining the annual amount of property taxes to be paid by a homeowner. At issue in Brevard are claims made by the county Property Appraiser, the county Value Adjustment Board (VAB) and the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR). The controversy surrounds a charge of favoritism concerning the appraised value of certain residential real estate in Indialantic. The appraiser has filed a lawsuit against the VAB and the DOR, accusing the VAB of not following the law and the DOR of basically looking the other way.

The county appraiser valued a woman's Riverside Drive home at $943,180 in 2010. To reach that value, the appraiser used as comparable properties waterfront homes about 25 miles away. The woman's property, however, had only a swimming pool, no water access, and was surrounded by homes valued at under $300,000. As was her right, the homeowner appealed the value to the appraiser's office. A special magistrate sided with the appraiser, and the homeowner appealed to the VAB.

The VAB lowered the assessed valuation to $810,000, and that set the county appraiser in motion with his lawsuit. In addition, the appraisal for the same homeowner this year raised the value by $20,000 while the values of surrounding homes were reduced by about 15 percent. The homeowner is challenging that determination as well. The appraiser's argument appears to be that the VAB somehow singled out the woman for a reduction when other homeowners did not receive the same benefit. That argument, the homeowner's lawyer suggested, may be an attempt to make a county appraiser's office more important than the VAB.

Indeed, real estate law may seem complex and overwhelming to those trying make a real estate transaction. The effort to ensure the appropriate value for a property can seem daunting. That's why seeking legal counsel can be a solid option to protect one's residential property. In a complex assessment situation, objective advice may turn out to be of indispensable value.

Source: Florida Today, "Charges of favoritism tinge Indialantic property dispute," Don Walker, Oct. 31, 2011

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