Miami-Dade property values surge nearly 9 percent in 2016

The Miami Herald
May 31, 2016
By Charles Trainor Jr.

Property values grew 8.6 percent across Miami-Dade at the start of 2016, with $5 billion in new construction driving tax rolls to new levels and allowing local governments to reap windfalls in revenue for the next budget year.

Every local jurisdiction saw growth in taxable values on real estate, with North Miami Beach leading the pack with a 16.6 percent gain, and Virginia Gardens bringing up the rear with a mere 0.3 percent increase.

The figures also detailed the construction boom unfolding along the county’s coast: Miami Beach added $1.2 billion in new construction at the start of 2016, up from about $270 million in 2015. While Miami Beach was the leader in new construction in this year, Miami wasn’t far behind at $1 billion. The city added about $490 million of new construction in 2015.

 

Pedro Garcia, the county’s elected property appraiser, issued a statement touting the numbers as a signal of continued expansion as the real estate market is showing signs of slowing.

“The construction boom that is visible across the county has yet to peak,” Garcia said, “and will continue to fuel this growth.”

Property values easily surpassed a forecast of 6.5 percent growth in Miami-Dade’s budget. The countywide gain, combined with an 6.2 percent increase for the county’s unincorporated areas, also will trigger a 4 percent cost-of-living raise for thousands of Miami-Dade’s unionized employees.

The compensation increase was linked to a property-value trigger that Mayor Carlos Gimenez negotiated with five county unions during 2014 labor talks when the county faced a revenue squeeze and he wanted to defer costs. Should the remaining five unions agree to the same deal during ongoing labor negotiations, the trigger would cost the county’s general operations about $24 million in 2017, according to the budget office.

In a statement, Gimenez celebrated the new numbers, which come just three months before he faces reelection in August. “We are always looking for innovative ways to manage costs while allowing for savings to be used to restore and enhance services in an efficient and fiscally responsible manner,” he said.

Released Tuesday evening, the tax-roll estimate values Miami-Dade’s combined real estate at $250 billion, about $4 billion higher than the last peak in 2008 as the housing market was teetering toward an historic crash. Since the housing market’s low point in 2011, about $63 billion in value has been regained, Garcia said.

The values are preliminary, so the final figures are likely to change before Garcia’s office issues final figures on July 1. The broad gains could put pressure on elected officials to roll back property-tax rates, since higher values increase homeowner tax bills even if rates stay flat. Governments typically set tax rates over the summer, in advance of budget years that begin Oct. 1.

For the county’s school system, real estate values grew 8.1 percent to $283 billion. Because the countywide taxing district offers more exemptions than does the school-system district, the county tax roll is lower than the school board and typically sees a different growth rate. Alberto Carvalho, the county’s school superintendent, said state funding formulas mean no windfall from property taxes because Florida aid will creep back to compensate.

“When one increases, the other decreases,” he said. “For the school board, there is no material impact” from the tax-roll report.

Cindy Lerner, mayor of Pinecrest, said her city’s 6.6 percent increase won’t match increasing municipal expenses. “It doesn’t keep pace with mounting infrastructure needs,” she said. “We get nothing — literally zilch — from the Florida Legislature.”

Values in Tuesday’s report are supposed to capture what property is worth as of Jan. 1, 2016. Growth comes from existing property gaining in value, plus increases in taxable value from new construction.

Taxable values determine the amounts homeowners pay on property-tax bills that will go out later this year, based on rates set by local governments in the coming months. The values lag real-time market conditions, which have shown signs of cooling demand for luxury condos and an overall slowdown in sales. For the first three months of 2016, residential sales in Miami-Dade decreased 8.9 percent, according to the Miami Association of Realtors.

Among the notable results in the report:

▪ Countywide, Miami-Dade added $5 billion in new construction at the start of 2016. That’s compared with just $2.8 billion of new construction at the start of 2015.

▪ When it comes to a hot real estate market, tiny El Portal can claim the top spot. It saw 13.8 percent growth in the taxable value of existing properties, which are now worth $130 million. A close second went to the Normandy Shores taxing district within Miami Beach (up 12.3 percent) and third place went to Bay Harbor Islands, with a 10.9 percent gain.

▪ If property owners demolish more construction than is built, the new-construction figure is listed as a negative.

Multiple jurisdictions recorded negative new construction in 2015, but the demolition trend appeared to slow considerably in 2016. Only Bal Harbour wound up with a building deficit, recording a negative $1 million for new construction. Several other cities recorded zero new construction: El Portal, Indian Creek, Surfside and Virginia Gardens.

▪ Unincorporated areas in Miami-Dade — property outside city limits, which rely on the county for municipal services — saw taxable value rise 6.2 percent. That’s better than a forecast 5 percent.

▪ Of the various taxing districts that fund county services, the library district saw the biggest increase: up 9 percent, compared with a forecast of 6.5 percent.

This post was updated to differentiate between the tax roll value for the county school-board taxing district ($283 billion) and the countywide taxing district ($250 billion).

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