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Hillsborough taxable property values decrease

TAMPA — The housing boom giveth, the housing slump taketh away.

After four years of double-digit increases, Hillsborough County property values slid 4 percent for 2008, property appraiser Rob Turner said Friday.

It was the first decline since the real estate slump of 1992, and another sign that local governments, used to living large on the bounty of the building boom, will need to slim down this year.

"It's a significantly different environment than what they've had to feed from in past years," Turner said after he delivered the numbers to county and city taxing bodies Friday afternoon.

Taxable value of county property totaled $80-billion in 2007 but slipped to $76.8-billion in 2008, a decline of $3.2-billion. The entire decline is attributable to January's passage of the Amendment 1 property tax reform, which allowed portability of the Save Our Homes tax cap and doubled the homestead exemption to $50,000.

Had the ballot initiative failed, taxable values would have risen slightly this year, buoyed by $2.5-billion in new construction and a $1.7-billion rise in the value of commercial property in Hillsborough.

"Generally, commercial markets will lag the residential markets," Turner said.

Turner cautioned that taxes will rise for thousands of home–owners despite a collapse in the market value of their properties.

It's a quirk of Save Our Homes, which artificially caps assessment increases at 3 percent a year.

Homes enjoying a large gap between their market values and taxable values are liable to higher assessments even during the housing slump.

Turner said it amounts to local governments "recapturing" some of the Save Our Homes benefits. It has been a sore spot with county residents, provoking thousands of calls to the Property Appraiser's Office.

Hillsborough property isn't shedding value in isolation. Across the bay, Pinellas County reported that property values dipped 8.5 percent the past year. Pasco County's dropoff was 10 percent.

This year's valuations are based on sales as of Jan. 1. So even though most houses are fetching less on the market in the first half of 2008, those declines won't be reflected on the tax rolls until 2009.

Read James Thorner's (Un)Real Estate blog at blogs.tampabay.com/realestate.

>>Fast facts

Ups and downs

Changes in Hillsborough County's taxable property values the past four years:

2005: up 15.7 percent

2006: up 21.5 percent

2007: up 12.2 percent

2008: down 4 percent

Hillsborough taxable property values decrease 05/30/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 5, 2008 11:58am]
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