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Unexpected Property Tax Bill: What Homebuyers Need to Know (video)

A new homeowner in Tampa, who purchased her Winter Haven home less than a year ago, has been forced to put it back on the market due to an unexpectedly high property tax bill.

Unexpected Property Tax Bill: What Homebuyers Need to Know

The homeowner, referred to as Tampa Ransom, experienced a shocking 174% increase in her property taxes, far beyond what she had anticipated.

Sticker Shock for New Homeowners

When Tampa Ransom bought her home last May, she expected her property taxes to be around $2,700, with a potential slight variation.

However, she was blindsided when she received her tax bill showing a significant hike.

This dramatic increase has left her unable to afford her home, despite having invested most of her savings into the down payment and additional home expenses such as an alarm system.

Attorney Insights on Property Tax Increases

Michael Finn, an attorney based in St. Petersburg, explained that this situation is becoming more common, particularly in Florida and areas near water.

Property values in these regions have soared over the past five years, often doubling or tripling.

Finn mentioned that while homeowners can dispute their property tax assessments, it’s unlikely they will see a significant decrease due to the expertise of property assessor offices in valuing properties accurately.

Reasons Behind Property Tax Hikes

Several factors contribute to the sharp increase in property taxes for new homeowners.

One primary reason is the reassessment of home values upon sale. When a property changes hands, the assessed value is often updated to reflect the current market value, which can be significantly higher than the previous assessment.

This results in a higher property tax bill for the new owner.

Impact on Homeowners

The unexpected property tax hike has left Tampa Ransom in a difficult financial situation.

Having invested a substantial portion of her savings into her home, she now finds herself having to sell it without the expectation of recouping her investment.

This situation highlights the importance of potential buyers thoroughly researching property tax implications before purchasing a home.

Legal Advice for Homebuyers

Michael Finn advises prospective homebuyers to reach out to their local property tax assessor before finalizing a purchase.

By obtaining an estimate of the potential property tax bill based on the current market value, buyers can avoid unpleasant surprises and make more informed decisions.

Potential Solutions for Homeowners

For those already facing high property tax bills, Finn suggests exploring available options such as property tax exemptions or abatements.

These programs can provide relief by reducing the taxable value of a property, thereby lowering the tax bill. Additionally, homeowners may consider appealing their property tax assessment if they believe it is excessively high.

Long-Term Implications

The steep property tax hikes seen by new homeowners like Tampa Ransom could have broader implications for the real estate market.

As more buyers become aware of the potential for significant increases in property taxes, it may affect their purchasing decisions, potentially slowing down the market in areas with rapidly rising property values.

Conclusion

Tampa Ransom’s experience serves as a cautionary tale for potential homebuyers. Thoroughly researching property tax implications and seeking estimates from property tax assessors can help buyers avoid unexpected financial burdens.

For those already impacted, exploring legal options and seeking professional advice may provide some relief.

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