Property valuations across Lee County skyrocketed in 2021, with Cape Coral setting the stage for the highest annual increases on record.
Lehigh didn’t fare too badly.
The overall valuation in the Lehigh Acres Fire District saw its overall valuation increase by approximately 18.91%, an appropriate increase of $1.06 billion.
Overall, estimated property values in Lee County jumped 30.25% from a year ago. The county’s property assessment rose from $133,025,841,029 to $173,272,037,000, an increase of more than $40.2 billion.
Total taxable assessment increased from approximately $96 billion to $111.3 billion, and increased by $15.3 billion, or 15.93%. The taxable school assessment figures were higher with an increase of approximately $23.8 billion, or 22.72%.
Lee County real estate appraiser Matt Caldwell said the unprecedented increase would be an understatement, as people have moved into the area faster than homes can be built or put on the market for them.
“Unprecedented doesn’t even begin to describe it. Talking to real estate agents and appraisers, we were expecting 20-40% based on what they saw. For us, you have to expect around 30%,” said Caldwell. “The demand for housing in Southwest Florida has far exceeded any supply.”
Caldwell released initial property value estimates for 2022 on Wednesday, with all but one tax district (Fort Myers Shores) seeing at least double-digit growth.
Cape Coral, a pre-platformed community like Lehigh Acres, saw its estimated assessed value increase by 38.90%, which far exceeded any other municipality or tax district in the county. Total fair property assessments increased from $26,899,990,692 to $37,363,329,000, an increase of $10,463,338,308.
In terms of taxable assessment, real estate assessments went from $18,342,719,101 to $22,152,347,000, an increase of $3,809,627,899, an increase of 20.77%.
New construction in Cape Coral reached an estimated $1,010,532,315, up from $620,499,525 in 2021. Of the estimated 2022 number, that taxable assessment is just under a billion at $999,316,537 .
Sanibel’s total fair value climbed 32.39%, with its assessed value increasing 12.13%. The City of Fort Myers saw its total fair estimate increase by 24.68% and its taxable count increase by 17.12%.
Fort Myers Beach was up 13.88%, Bayshore was up 19.12%, Matlacha was up 14.34% and North Fort Myers was up 14.28%.
From a tax perspective, Homesteaded owners are protected from such growth. Those who benefit from the Save Our Homes homestead exemption have their property taxes capped at 3%, and those who do not benefit from it are capped at 10%, Caldwell said.
“Only the values have increased by 30%, but the assessed value has only increased by 15%. Half of the market is protected from large increases depending on how and where they own,” said Caldwell. “It’s a reminder that if you’re moving to Florida, make sure the first thing you do after you close is come see us and make sure you complete the Homestead Exemption Application.”
The purpose of the valuation is to provide the tax authorities with a first estimate for the development of their budgets and property tax rates.
Caldwell’s office will continue to refine these estimates and certify official values by July 1. In the past, this number has increased.
For taxing entities, the increase in taxable value means an increase in income at the current tax rate; the “rewind” the mileage rate keeps revenue flat.
Final numbers for all tax districts will be sent to Tallahassee for approval once finalized.
TRIM – Truth in Millage – notices will be mailed to owners in August. Owners will then have 25 days to resolve any value disagreements with the property expert.