Housing prices coming back to earth

Even on the beaches, property values show only modest gains or slight decreases.

By WILL VAN SANT, Times Staff Writer
Published May 25, 2007

Looking for more evidence that Pinellas' housing market has returned to Earth after several years in orbit?

Consider preliminary figures released by the county Property Appraiser's Office. They show taxable property values rising a mere 5.8 percent from last year to this, compared to a 20 percent climb from 2005 to 2006.

The last time the annual change was as modest was 1999, when values grew just 4.8 percent.

Part of the reason for the slowdown: Taxable property values in some of Pinellas' beach communities fell after reaching a peak in 2006.

Last year, tiny Belleair Shore saw a jump of nearly 40 percent. Figures for this year show that taxable property value in Belleair Shore actually fell by 4.8 percent. Other beach towns, including Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and Redington Beach also find themselves facing a decline in values.

"The market went up very, very rapidly, too fast, " said Bob Johnson of Sand Key Realty, who has been dealing in Pinellas waterfront property for a decade. "Things are coming back down to where they belong."

Seminole, St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs all showed healthy increases of 8.9, 8.3 and 8.1 percent respectively.

The 5.8 percent hike represents a $4.4-billion addition to the 2007 tax roll, which now stands at $79.9 billion. But chief deputy property appraiser Pam Dubov said even that jump suggests a hotter market than really exists.

Dubov said that's because $1.1-billion of the increase is new construction and $1.2-billion comes from properties that have changed hands and lost their Save Our Homes tax caps this year.

The cap bars a homesteaded property's assessed value from going up more than 3 percent a year.

So some owners have seen their tax bills climb at a manageable rate as the value of their homes has soared. With the cooling market, some owners may be expecting a break in their tax bills. But under Florida law that will only happen in the unlikely event that the home's market value fell below that of its capped value.

Dubov expects some perplexed homeowners to be calling when Truth In Millage notices are sent out in August, wondering why they aren't getting a reduction.

"It's something that we are going to have to explain a lot, " Dubov said. "But that's okay, it's our job to explain things."

Will Van Sant can be reached at vansant@sptimes.com or 445-4166.


The Pinellas County Property Appraiser's Office has released preliminary figures on taxable property values. They show an increase in value countywide of 5.8 percent from last year to this, as opposed to 20 percent from 2005 to 2006. The last time the annual increase was lower was in 1999, when values grew 4.8 percent. Here's the breakdown by municipality, including properties in unincorporated Pinellas.

Taxing Authority |  Percent Change

Belleair: 4.7

Belleair Beach: 4.7

Belleair Bluffs: 3.5

Belleair Shore:  -4.8

Clearwater : 4.3

Dunedin: 7.6

Gulfport: 6

Indian Rocks Beach:  -.7

Indian Shores: -3.2

Kenneth City:  5.1

Largo: 7.4

Madeira Beach:  .5

North Redington Beach:  .6

Oldsmar:  7.9

Pinellas Park:  6.8

Redington Beach: -.1

Redington Shores: 5.3

Safety Harbor:  6.2

Seminole:  8.9

South Pasadena: -2.2

St. Pete Beach:  1.6

St. Petersburg:  8.3

Tarpon Springs:  8.1

Treasure Island:  3.8

Unincorporated Pinellas:  5.6

Source: Pinellas County Property Appraiser's Office.