What is your house worth? He will tell you

Eric Schutzendorf of the Pinellas County real estate appraiser's office knows an upscale home when he sees one.

Balconies, stucco trim around windows and a clay tile roof add value to a property. A house with a perfectly square shape and "not enough going on" with the wall angles is considered excellent – one grade worse than superior, Schutzendorf said as he drove through a neighborhood in old Northeast St. Petersburg, Fla.

Schutzendorf's work lends itself to some subjectivity, but most aspects of it are based on objective observation and consistency – a new in-ground pool increases property values, lawn sculptures do not. If a wooden deck in the middle of a yard measures less than 100 square feet, it is not included in the appraised value.

Even though their ratings are largely based on a list, county appraisers play an important role in a homeowner's life. You determine the valuation of a property, which in turn is used to calculate property taxes. Their results can give homeowners a healthy equity boost, which can be good news when it comes to obtaining secured loans by holding an asset as collateral.

But when a home's assessed value goes up, so do property taxes, leading some homeowners to struggle to pay – and eagerly blame the assessor. This has been a particularly thorny issue in recent years, as Florida's overheated real estate market has driven up taxes and insurance rates by huge jumps.

"You are not Mr. Popular if you do that," said Schutzendorf, 28.

The task of 513.Valuing Pinellas County's 000 properties is even more difficult considering they are the most densely developed properties in the state, said Ron Anderson, deputy county for appraisals. Florida, home to one of the most competitive real estate markets in the country, has laws that limit appreciation to 3 percent per year for an occupied property – a homeowner's permanent primary residence – and a dwelling exemption that gives owners a 25.000 $ tax benefit, which is included in the taxable value of the home.

Schutzendorf came to Pinellas County in 2002 with experience as a land surveyor and a degree in sociology from Florida State University, where he also earned a certificate in urban planning. Most appraisers hired in recent years have a college degree, Anderson said, and complete several months of training before working in the field.

But an appraiser's eye for real estate really gets sharpened on the job, where he learns to make replacement windows and a quick inventory of what has true value and what doesn't – things that often surprise homeowners.

A covered open space is valuable; rain gutters are not. A fancy mailbox in the shape of a dolphin has no value; storm shutters do. Bay windows that protrude from the side of a home are excluded from the home's listing unless they extend all the way to the floor.

The role of the appraiser's office is not to shape markets, but to respond to them. Protection village does not step in until a property is sold, so its opinion of the market value of a property does not matter. He said people coming to Florida from real estate markets like California may be willing to pay much more for a property than the county's assessed value.

"The guy from California thinks he's getting a good deal; the guy selling the house is getting a good deal," Schutzendorf said. "As long as both are happy."

That doesn't stop friends from asking him for his opinion on real estate and financing. Most of the time he tells them he is not in a position to give them an answer unless he is sitting in front of a computer, but he will advise people with mortgages to put more money in escrow and contact their insurance companies. That way, when tax and insurance bills go up, the extra money in the escrow account will prevent monthly payments from creeping up, he said.

Although it's not its job to monitor the housing markets in st. Petersburg to direct, Schutzendorf knows the real estate trends. He will be 3 this year.033 of 9.000 property in Area 8, its section in northeast St. Petersburg, check, which stretches from Fifth Avenue Northeast to 54th Avenue Northeast and from Tampa Bay to First Street North.

Knowing the trends also allows him to spot homes that would sell quickly. People are really looking for big open porches, Schutzendorf said as he drove toward downtown. He pointed to a bungalow-style home worth about 400.000 U.S. dollars, which would be "no big deal on paper" because of its simple rectangular floor plan. Its features, however, signal an "old Florida appeal" that is very popular – large porch, beaded boarding, arched doorways.

Schutzendorf said his job is mostly about accuracy and consistency, but he also needs skill in dealing with property owners who see him as the culprit behind rising tax bills.

The assessor's office has no influence on tax rates, only on valuation. People are surprised at how much their properties are worth and then are frustrated with the tax burden.

Schutzendorf shares details about his own property to assure residents in his area that he can sympathize with them. He pays 3 annually.000 in property taxes for the 175.$800 home in Seminole that he shares with his wife.

When he meets property owners on fixed incomes who can't keep up with their property taxes or insurance payments, he said he can only listen.

"There's nothing I can do about it, but at this point I'm the face of everything that's wrong with their property," Schutzendorf said.

In August, real estate appraisers are busy defending their valuations. Truth in Millage Notices (TRIM) are mailed to property owners informing them of their right to petition the Value Adjustment Board if they disagree with their assessment.

Anderson said that in recent years, there have been between 1.200 and 1.700 petitions have been given. Property owners who are unhappy with the board's decision can file a lawsuit, but they don't have to file a petition before the lawsuit is filed. Typically there are 20 to 30 a year in Pinellas County.

Having someone enter your property and make judgments can be stressful for homeowners. Anderson said people have been especially concerned since 11. Sept. 11, 2001, are "very concerned" so appraisers put county signs on their cars and always leave tags on the doors of homes they visit.

Schutzendorf sets some additional ground rules for himself. He considers himself a big guy – 6 feet 2, 230 pounds – so he steps back from a door after knocking on it to make sure he's not crowding anyone. He always whistles before opening a gate – it could be a dog – and makes sure to close it again when he leaves. If a child is home alone, he or she is likely to leave a hang tag and come back later.

The home visits Schutzendorf is making this summer are to verify the accuracy of the county's records.

He measures the walls of homes, looking for features like patios, decks and pools. Adding a pool can increase the value of a home by 15.000 to 21.000 increase in value, but that value doesn't hold up over time if the pool deteriorates.

If he sees tile or other building materials on the property, he might ask about recent remodels. If a property owner is remodeling a kitchen, a permit will be filed with the city, and Schutzendorf will be asked to review it. He asks if the countertops are solid, if the cabinets are solid wood or wood veneer, and he leaves out appliances.

Schutzendorf said his job has taught him to be a conscientious property owner. His best advice is to get as much information as possible about your property, including building materials and applicable taxes and insurance costs.

"The more you know, the better off you'll be," Schutzendorf said.

Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: