Deadline Approaches To File For Your Homestead Exemption!
Now that you are done unpacking……it is time to take care of your homestead exemption. If you purchased your new home in 2019 you have until March 1, 2020 to file for your homestead exemption. In many cases….this can be done online. Visit the website of the St Johns County Property Appraiser .
FIRST YEAR OF TAXES ON A NEWLY CONSTRUCTED HOME
If you buy a newly constructed home, it’s important to understand how the county will calculate your assessed value for the first year the home was built versus the following years as the tax bill will be significantly different.
- For the year in which your home was built and closed, your tax bill will classify your property as unimproved or vacant property—or in simple terms, just the value of the lot.
- The tax bill for the calendar year after your home was built will classify your home as improved property and will therefore be based on the lot and the home.
Since the value of the lot on which your home is built is significantly less than the overall value of your home on the lot, the tax bill for the first calendar year of ownership will be significantly less than the following years.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MANAGING PROPERTY TAXES
If you qualify for exemptions or caps, make certain that you apply for them on time. Otherwise, your second property tax bill could hold an unpleasant surprise. As a homebuyer, you should consider your property taxes as a cost of homeownership. As with other costs, proper management of property taxes can help save money. The St. Johns County Property Appraiser’s Office has a handy online property tax calculator that can help you understand your millage rate and estimate your tax bill.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION AND OTHER EXEMPTIONS
Homeowners who buy a primary residence can enjoy a substantial tax break called “homestead exemption.” A primary residence is defined as a home in which a person resides in and maintains a place of abode in that county which he or she recognizes and intends to maintain as his or her permanent home. The homestead exemption is available if you meet the following criteria:
- Per the Florida Constitution (VIII) (6) (b), each individual or family unit is entitled to ONE homestead exemption. If you or your spouse claim(s) residency at another location in Florida or in another state and benefit(s) from a tax credit or exemption on property you own at another location in Florida or in another state, you are not eligible to file for homestead exemption in St. Johns County unless or until the other exemption/benefit is relinquished.
- Filers must have made the home their permanent residence by the 1st day of the filing year—so on or before Jan 1.
A homestead exemption essentially reduces your assessed value by $50,000 which makes the “taxable value” of your home $50,000 less. $25,000 of the $50,000 is a full reduction of the taxable value of your home. The second part of the homestead exemption, which passed in 2008, allows for an additional $25,000 off the assessed value of your home as it relates to the various parts of the millage rate except the portion of your taxes attributed to schools.
As a quick example, assume the assessed value of your home is $200,000 and you’re eligible to receive the homestead exemption. The taxable value of your home (the value used by which to multiply the millage rate) would be as follows:
|Assessed Value of Your Home||$400,000|
|Homestead Exemption (part 1)||$25,000|
|Taxable Value for School Portion of the Millage||$375,000|
|Homestead Exemption (part 2)||$25,000|
|Taxable Value for All Portions of Millage except School||$350,000|
Homeowners who qualify for the homestead exemption might also qualify for some additional exemptions for their property tax.
These additional exemptions include tax breaks for:
- Widows and widowers
- Service-related or non-service-related disabilities
Homeowners may save quite a bit on their property taxes by learning about the various exemptions, making sure they qualify for them, and applying for them in time.
“SAVE OUR HOMES” AMENDMENT AND PORTABILITY
The “Save Our Homes” regulation, usually called SOH, helps current property taxpayers by capping increases in tax assessments from one year to the next. SOH was put into place to help those property owners in areas where values are rapidly increasing. The SOH keeps these assessments from increasing by a) more than three percent, or b) more than the increase in the consumer price index, whichever is lower. It only applies to Florida residents who use the home as a primary residence and qualify for a homeowner’s exemption. However, this rule may artificially deflate the taxes paid on an existing home because the taxes will be reset to the updated present value once the home sells.
For example, lets say you purchased your home 10 years ago for $200,000 but it’s now worth $300,000. Assuming an increase of the maximum 3% per year, your assessed value would be $260,955 at the end of the 10 years. Since your home is really worth $300,000, you have a savings (in assessed value) of $39,045 ($300,000 – $260,955).
The portability part of SOH is a tremendous savings to homeowners in Florida that wish to buy a different home (assuming a primary residence). Portability allows a property owner to transfer the savings in assessed value (the $39,045) to the new primary residence. Therefore, if your new home has a market value of $500,000, your assessed value would be $460,955. The limit on the portability is $500,000 so long as the home you’re purchasing is of a greater value than the one you just sold.
You should apply for your SOH transfer at the same time you apply for your new homestead exemption. Again, the deadline is March 1. You can learn more about transferring SOH caps and find the forms at the Homestead Portability.
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- I Want That One!
One of the best parts of a real estate agent’s jobs is helping you find ‘the one’. Watching your face light up as we drive up to your dream home is nothing short of magical. “Find the one,” is an agent’s mantra. Understanding your wants and needs even before the financing stage will prove to be crucial step in this process. If you haven’t already, write those wants, needs, and desires down! Ask yourself: “Why do I want a new home? What is my motivation?” “Where will I want to live?” “When do I want to relocate?” Getting answers to these questions can dramatically help your realtor guide you through the home-buying process.
- What You Want vs. What You Can Get:
There is a difference between a desire for more and a desire for a thing. Despite this difference, both of these desires exist in the homeowner at the same time. One of the deciding forces that can or can’t satisfy those desires is the financing company. They get the final say on whether you can get what you want or what you can simply get or whether you can have both. Knowing your purchasing power is one of the most crucial first steps to home-ownership. If you are thinking it is time to purchase a new home, then your very first stop will be the lender’s office to determine what type of loan you qualify for, and how much the banking institution is willing to loan you. Not sure who your lender might be? Not a problem. We can help determine the best financing company for you to use based on your needs.
- The Emotional Roller Coaster:
Buying a new home is a roller coaster of emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety, frustration, remorse. These can and more than likely WILL be emotions we go through during the home buying process. Understanding that this process is a common one is 1000% necessary to move forward effectively. There will be times when we will be happy (We found the one!). There could be sadness (The home we fell in love with sold just after we decided it was ‘the one’). Anger is possible as well (see ‘sadness’). There could be remorse.
You will more than likely question every single step of this process and wonder if you’re making the right decision; or if this is really something you should be doing right now. Knowing in advance that these emotions are normal will help you get through the home buying process with your mental and physical health in tact. We’ve personally gone through these with a number of clients. As long as we understand what our needs are, and we remain in this process together, we will prevail. Once you’ve been approved and we’ve located the home you wish to make your own, we then begin the offer process.
After we’ve submitted an offer, a couple of things are possible.
- The offer is accepted.
- The offer is not accepted, but a counter offer is given.
- The offer is placed when there are multiple offers already available to the seller.
There are other scenarios based on what type of home we are looking at, but these are the most common. Given that we currently sit in a seller’s market, the local inventory is not on the shelf for very long. We are more likely to experience a multiple offer situation. Having someone on your side that you trust and that has seasoned expertise with the home buying process is crucial to protecting your best interests!
- You’ve Got A Deal!
Once you’re offer has been accepted, you will enter the contracting phase of the selling process. This can be a slightly complicated step because these are the specific terms of your home purchase. Most real estate companies carry what is called “Errors & Omissions Insurance” to protect everyone involved in the transaction should there be any mistakes. Walking into this phase of your home-purchasing process without the proper knowledge of the legal aspects of this process could cost you your escrow deposit and much headache. Any deposit that is required to purchase your home (determined by the lending institution) will be placed into a special escrow account as determined by your contract.
- Is It Really Worth That Much?
You’ve been approved to buy a new home. You’ve located the home of your dreams. We’ve put in an offer and we’ve fought together to get you the greatest deal. We’ve submitted all the necessary paperwork. Now, we place our trust in the appraiser’s hands as he confirms how much the said property is worth. The appraiser’s job is to make sure that actual value of the home is what is listed in the contract. If the numbers don’t match, or aren’t close, there are a number of scenarios that can result. The worst of these is the loss of the contract on the home you love. Partnering with the right people through this process to avoid that worst case scenario is instrumental and is not something to take lightly.
- Yes, But Will You Fix It?
“Would you like a home inspection with that?” YES!
An inspection is another important part of the home buying process. We want to make sure, the lender especially, that the home you are about to purchase is as described and that any major problems are either fixed or, at the very least, disclosed. If you are working with the right agent, these problems can be addressed on your behalf ahead of time and fixed BEFORE your purchase is finalized. There is a fine line here between getting things done and getting an offer withdrawn by asking for too much. Sometimes deals fall apart because the buyer and the seller disagree over who should fix what. The right real estate agent will fight on your behalf to get what you deserve and be honest enough to let you know when it’s time to move on.
- Home Insurance, Title Insurance, Home Warranties OH MY!
Make sure you have partnered yourself with a real estate company that prides itself on quality customer service. Ensure that those that you do business with are doing business with like minds and that they are working with the best in the business. Your agent is going to have preferred partners to work with, like lenders or inspectors, that will help you navigate through the world of options and paperwork. Once you’ve completed the home-buying process up to this point, it will be time to make sure that you and this process are protected to the “nth” degree. Make sure that your preferred partners are trusted and reliable. If you build a trusting relationship with your real estate agent, you can rest assured knowing they have similar relationships with their business partners.
- Closing?! Did Someone Say Closing?!?!
It’s now all about confirmation: documents, dates, costs, etc. In most cases your file will be reviewed by an attorney who will confirm that your Title Insurance is good and your Homeowners Insurance will be put in place. Once we’ve confirmed these policies and figures, we will determine when and where we will close on your new home! We will know exactly what our final settlement amounts are and exactly how much your closing cost will be. Then, we wait very patiently for closing day ensuring EVERYTHING that was in place remains in place. We wait patiently for the day to arrive when we sign your paperwork and hand over the keys to YOUR brand new home!
- Welcome Home
You’ve arrived. Take some time to absorb it. We place our final signatures on our final paperwork. We get the keys and we go to your brand new home. We pull up and experience the most magical moment of this entire process. You’re now officially a homeowner; or, in some cases, a NEW homeowner! J
- The Most Important Part
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth saying again: Nothing worth having comes easy. Nothing that comes easy is worth having.
The home-buying process is by no means easy. That being said, it can be made easier depending on the guide you choose to navigate you through the more challenging steps, to help you survive the roller coaster of emotions. That person that can make or break this process for you. For home buyers, the next best thing to finding the perfect home is finding the perfect realtor. It is our mission to serve you perfectly. We honor that mission. We honor that commitment.
Knowing what to do is one thing. Knowing how to do it is another. When you’re choosing a real estate agent, make sure you choose one that knows how to get things done. Make sure you choose one you can trust as much as your new home.
Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a buyer’s agent who is an expert in their market on your side is your best bet to make sure the process goes smoothly. Let’s talk about how we can make your dreams of homeownership a reality here in St Johns County Florida (serving St Augustine, Nocatee and Ponte Vedra, Ponte Vedra Beach and St Johns)!
Give us a call today and we will be happy to put you on the track of a new home here in St Augustine, St Johns, Nocatee or Ponte Vedra. For Buyers Only Realty is the oldest and most respected Exclusive Buyer’s Agents in Northeast Florida. 100% Buyer Representation at no cost to you! We are the Wife-Husband team of Dedicated Buyer’s Agents!
Call Sharon Stevens at 904-687-5220 or Dwight Cole at 904-466-4630