Monday, October 12, 2009

Miami-Dade property appraiser tries to explain process of assessing home values

Kendall residents are signing on to the growing list of Miami-Dade County homeowners puzzled by their recent tax notices.At a meeting of the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations on Tuesday night, county property appraiser Pedro J. Garcia spent most of his time addressing one question: Why are property values decreasing and tax rates going up?Residents at the town hall meeting criticized Garcia’s decision to disregard foreclosures when assessing the property values of their homes, saying the strategy was distorting the real numbers.“You are in effect overstating the values and subsequent real estate taxes that people have to pay by not factoring in foreclosures,” said Keneth Karger, who lives in the 10700 block of Kendall Drive. “It doesn’t seem right. You aren’t lowering the values where you are supposed to.”Garcia told the crowd of about 30 they don’t fully understand the process of appraising.“We establish market value in the area; we don’t go one house by one house,” said Garcia, the first person to be elected to the post.“Do you believe it’s fair to tell those people with $200,000 homes that their property is now worth $75,000 because somebody on their block has a foreclosure? It’s not fair. We are looking for the real value of the property.”According to Garcia, foreclosures are being considered only when determining property values in Homestead, the city in Miami-Dade County with the highest foreclosure rates.“You have to prove to me that foreclosure is the market in that area,” Garcia said.At the same meeting, Garcia told a woman who had made no upgrades to her house that her property’s value might go up because of the improvements her neighbors recently made to their homes.“This is just cherry-picking,” Karger said.Garcia said the difference between the two cases was in the comparable properties being examined.He said foreclosure homes are often vandalized and stripped of appliances once the owners move out, making the assessment process more difficult.“We are talking about properties that you are going to have to invest some money. We have no way to know what kind of money people have to put in there to make that property similar to the other properties in that block,” he said.Garcia listened to homeowners with specific questions regarding their properties. He handed out several business cards and encouraged people to call him so he could personally investigate their case.“Believe me, we are not bad people. We are working for the taxpayers,” Garcia said.

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