This evening opponents conceded that supporters of Amendment 1 in Florida had more than enough votes to get it approved. Just over half the votes was not enough for passage. It was required that the amendment get at least 60% of the votes cast for this propety tax reform amendment to pass.
The amendment was opposed by firemen, teachers, many municipalities, and others who feel that the tax losses will criticially affect their organizations. However, most homeowners seemed to feel that, though perhaps imperfect, at least this was reform of a sort.
On the ballot the amendment was 3 pages long! It was mainly the first page that dealt with private homeowners. Here is how I understand the reform will affect the average homeowner in the Sunshine State:
- For homesteaded residences that have an assessed value of at least $75,000, they will get an additional $25,000 homestead exemption, except for school taxes.
- Will allow homeowners who have accumulated Save Our Homes savings to take these along with them when they buy a new home. If the new home is more expensive than the last one, 100% of the savings will transfer to the new home. If the next home is less in value, then the county will use a formula to determine how much of the savings will be carried over to the next home. It is believed that in our real estate industry, this one provision will make many homeowners more likely to change residences without the fear of losing their tax savings.
- Homesteaded properties will still have Save Our Homes so that their taxes cannot go up more than 3% per year or the cost-of-living index per year.
- Even non-homesteaded properties, such as those homes of our winter residences, rental properties, etc. will not have their assessments raised more than 10% per year. This provision will not take effect until 2009.
- Keep in mind that a couple of these savings do not apply to school taxes that are collected.
In my opinion, I do think this amendment may give the real estate market a needed boost. Prices are the lowest they have been for several years and interest rates are also very low. Now perhaps with the fear of losing Save Our Homes saving no longer an issue, more sellers will sell their current homes and search for that next one.
Will it be a perfect solution? Most assuredly not. Even amongst REALTORs there is a lot of discussion over this issue. We all had great hopes for insurance reform that was enacted last year and look where that took us! Not much improvement in my opinion. Let's hope that this property tax amendment will do better. I think at least most of us will give it a chance. Unfortunately, there is a possible consitutional challenge that may be attempted. Will just have to wait and see on that one.
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