Duties of the Property Appraiser
REAL PROPERTY APPRAISAL
The Property Appraiser does not determine property taxes. This is the responsibility of the taxing authorities in Washington County. These include County Government, the School Board, Northwest Florida Water Management District and others. The Property Appraiser is responsible for identifying the market value of property in the county. The market value of real property is based on the current real estate market. Finding the "market" value of your property means discovering the price most people would pay for your property. Determining a fair and equitable value is the only role of this office in the taxing process. The property appraiser does not create the value. People make the value by buying and selling real estate in the market place. The property appraiser has the legal responsibility to study those transactions and appraise your property accordingly.
The Washington County Property Appraiser’s office uses nationally recognized appraisal systems and a Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) system to gather, store and analyze the large body of data necessary to arrive at a fair market value for each parcel of property in Washington County. Actual sales prices of like properties in similar neighborhoods are a key component of the data needed by the skilled and professionally trained appraisers who assist the Property Appraiser in analyzing the real estate marketplace and evaluating your property.
Florida law specifies that every property must be inspected at least once every five years. Staff appraisers physically inspect the properties to determine any changes such as additions, changes in condition etc. The results of the physical inspection are noted in the CAMA system and are used in the annual calculation of the appraised value of the property.
Mobile homes have two possible classifications. They can be categorized as real property or tangible personal property. Real property refers to physical land and those items permanently attached to it (.e.g. a slab construction, a barn, a fence etc.). Tangible property is an item that is not real property; that is, something not permanently affixed to or part of the real estate (physical land).
Mobile homes which are permanently installed on property owned by the owner of the mobile home are considered real property and is appraised using the same process as a concrete block or other building. A license identifying such a mobile home as real property is obtained through the Property Appraiser’s and Tax Collector’s offices. A sticker so identifying a mobile home is attached to the mobile home.
A mobile home located on rented or leased property is considered tangible personal property. The county Tax Collector issues a license to identify the mobile home as tangible personal property.
TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY
The Property Appraiser is also responsible for appraising Tangible Personal Property. Tangible Personal Property is all property other than real estate that has value in or of itself. It includes items such as business machinery, office equipment, office furniture and fixtures, industrial equipment and farm equipment and other items.
Florida Law provides for certain exemptions to the fully appraised value of real property. The most commonly known is Homestead exemption which deducts $25,000 from the appraised value of real property and up to an additional $25,000 exemption on property valued at $50,000 or more. The additional exemption does not exempt School Board taxes. Other exemptions include religious, veteran, senior, widow, widower, disability, charitable and education. With the passage of Amendment 1 there is also a $25,000 exemption on Tangible Personal Property. All requests for exemptions must be filed between January 1 and March 1 of any year.
The Property Appraiser is responsible for a wide range of mapping services. Maintaining current maps is a key part of the entire appraisal process. Your Property Appraiser exerts tremendous energy to ensure that changes in Washington County are quickly reflected in the County maps. These maps are available for use by County and municipal agencies, commercial users and others who have a need to see a graphic representation of Washington County.