The Florida Constitution requires the county Property Appraisers to assess all property at its just value, which has been defined as “fair market value.” The purpose of this post is to explain, in a nutshell, how the Property Appraisers determine the just value of residential, commercial and tangible personal property in their jurisdictions.
First, it is important to note that the Property Appraiser must consider eight statutory factors, such as the present cash value, the highest and best use and current use of the property, location, quantity or size, the cost of the property and improvements, the condition of the property, the income from the property, if any, and the net proceeds from the sale of the property.
Residential Property. In most counties, residential property is assessed by a computer-assisted mass appraisal [“CAMA”] system. The Property Appraisers’ staff gathers market data and inputs it into the CAMA system, which produces values based on recent sales and construction costs. The values for each neighborhood may be reviewed by the staff and compared to recent sales to verify the accuracy of the assessments.
Commercial Property. Values for commercial property may be calculated in a variety of ways. Income-producing property, such as hotels, apartment complexes and office buildings, may be assessed by the income approach, which utilizes rental and sales data from similar properties. The sales comparison approach may also be used for commercial properties that are of a type that is commonly bought and sold. Unusual or special-purpose properties may be assessed by the cost approach, which adds the depreciated cost of the improvements to the land value to produce an total assessed value.
Tangible Personal Property. Tangible personal property is self-reporting, and thus the Property Appraisers rely heavily on taxpayers to accurately report the quantity, age and condition of their personal property. If deemed accurate, costs reported by the taxpayer are usually depreciated according to economic life tables and depreciation schedules published by the Florida Department of Revenue, or developed by the local Property Appraiser based on local market data.