Commentary: Some relief on property taxes needed

This editorial appeared in The Bradenton Herald.

Foreclosure news comes fast and furious these days. The latest, though, holds a shred of hope for both property taxpayers and struggling homeowners.

Property appraisers across the state of Florida are now taking a keen interest in factoring in foreclosure sales into home valuations — this despite state Department of Revenue rules that advise officials to ignore all types of distressed home sales.

The reasoning behind that rule might be sound in a stronger market with few foreclosures but not in today’s housing crash. The market is so swamped with foreclosures — 4,700 filings in just the first 10 months of 2008 in Manatee County alone — adhering to that rule ignores the obvious:

Everyone’s home value on the open market is plunging, more and more every day. Property tax relief is justified.

Try putting a "For Sale" sign on a house in a neighborhood teeming with abandoned homes, broken windows and overgrown yards. Nearby foreclosures are going to impact the sale price of a house, no doubt about that.

Manatee County Property Appraiser Charlie Hackney admitted his department is already factoring in short sales into the evaluation formula, and foreclosures could follow.

We encourage that. Other appraisers have already implemented such a policy. One consulted attorneys and got the green light.

The justification is straightforward: State rules cover a normal market. This is far from a normal market.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Bradenton Herald.