Property values in Miami-Dade County rose for the second year in a row – welcome news for South Florida municipalities, which derive much of their revenue from property taxes.
“It’s a good thing for anybody in government,” Miami City Manager Johnny Martinez said.
The growth – about 3.1 percent countywide – was slightly less than Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez was expecting. Last month, Gimenez predicted property values would rise 3.5 percent, creating in an additional $33.3 million in new revenue for county coffers.
But on Friday, Gimenez said the revised figures were “something we can work with.”
“At least the decline in property values has stopped,” he said. “For some years, it was negative growth.”
Overall, Miami-Dade’s tax roll grew to $196.61 billion from $190.69 billion last year, according to initial estimates released Friday by Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera.
Real estate property values increased by 2.5 percent. Oceanfront and urban-core properties were most likely to see their values rise, along with residential condominiums.
Commercial property values, meanwhile, were generally flat.
Also providing a boost to tax rolls: Florida Power and Light’s improvements to Turkey Point Nuclear Plant. The power station saw its assessment jump by $1.4 billion, according to the property appraiser’s office.
Jack McCabe, a housing analyst in Deerfield Beach, said he saw property values rise across the board, partly because hedge funds were eager to invest in real estate.
“While the rate of appreciation is coming to a more historical norm, the forces driving it are entirely different,” McCabe said. “It’s not individual owner-occupiers buying homes to live in. It’s corporations buying homes to rent out to people.”
The final tax rolls won’t be certified until next month, meaning the figures announced Friday are subject to change. But the preliminary numbers will help taxing authorities begin preparing their budgets and setting their tax rates.
Since 2007, tumbling tax rolls had left South Florida municipalities and school districts scrambling to balance their budgets. Some made dramatic cuts to programs and services. Others negotiated employee concessions or forced layoffs.
But real estate values in Miami-Dade and Broward began to rebound last year, showing slight growth over the year before.
The growth this year was even stronger.
In Broward, the countywide tax roll increased 4.4 percent to $132 billion, Broward Property Appraiser Lori Parrish announced earlier this week. Every Broward municipality, with the exception of Lazy Lake, saw property values rise.
There were winners and losers in Miami-Dade.
Indian Creek, a small island community just west of Surfside and south of Bay Harbor Islands, saw the strongest increase. Property values spiked 19.5 percent, to $431 million from $360 million last year.
Other beachfront municipalities in northeast Miami-Dade fared well, including Sunny Isles Beach, Bal Harbour, Golden Beach and Surfside.
Florida City, however, slid 6.6 percent to $410 million from $439 million. In Opa-locka, property values fell 5.6 percent.
“The rebound is very neighborhood specific,” said Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors, one of the area’s largest brokerage firms. “But there are very few homes that are still decreasing in value because inventory is so low.”
Some experts question if the growth is sustainable.
“The big question is, how long is it going to last?” said McCabe, the Broward-based housing analyst. “There are some people who believe that we may see these price increases for the next three to five years – and then interest rates are going to sky rocket, the hedge funds will start selling off their acquisitions, and we may have something similar to last decades. This could be the start of another bubble.”
City officials, however, are focused on another start: the official start of the budget season.
Miami saw its property values jump 4.1 percent to $32.6 billion from $31.3 billion. That’s a little bit more than city budget managers were expecting.
In Homestead, property values dipped to $1.795 billion from $1.8 billion, disappointing City Manager George Gretsas.
“To tell you the truth, I think most people thought it would increase,” Gretsas said. “We were hoping for a slight bump.”
He added: “It is what it is. We’ll just have to keep tightening our belts until we weather the storm.”
Gimenez, the Miami-Dade County mayor, said he believed the countywide figure had gone up in the past five months. The estimate was based on January figures.
“We think next year will probably be a better year,” he said. “But for now, we have to work with what we’ve got.”
Earlier in the week, Lopez-Cantera posted the assessed values for individual properties to the property appraiser’s website.
Historically, the information wasn’t available until August. Lopez-Cantera made the change to make it easier for residents to contest assessments, he said.