Wakulla County Property Appraiser Donnie Sparkman 3115-A Crawfordville Hwy., Crawfordville, Florida 32327 | Phone: (850) 926-0500 | Fax: (850) 926-6367
REAL PROPERTY Real Property is divided into four categories: residential, commercial, land, and agricultural. The Wakulla County Property Appraiser is responsible for locating, identifying, and fairly valuing all real and personal property in Wakulla County for tax purposes. 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 in its current condition. Determining fair and equitable values is the only role this office performs in the taxing process. It is important to remember that the Property Appraiser does not create value. People create value by buying and selling real estate in the open market place. The Property Appraiser has the legal responsibility to study those transactions and appraise your property accordingly. The Property Appraiser also tracks ownership changes, maintains maps of parcel boundaries, keeps descriptions of buildings and property characteristics up to date, accepts and approves applications from individuals eligible for exemptions and other forms of property tax relief, and, most importantly, analyzes trends in sales prices, construction costs, and rents to best estimate the value of all assessable property. All this must be done economically - for less than a tenth of what it would cost you to hire someone to independently appraise your property. In fact, the Wakulla County Property Appraiser's Office has been recognized for its state-of-the-art technological approach to the valuation process. A progressive computer assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) system is used by experienced appraisers to ensure that fair values are set for all Wakulla County property owners. At least once every five years, one of our appraisers will visit and inspect each property as required by Florida law. However, individual property values may be adjusted between visits in light of sales activity or other factors affecting real estate values in your neighborhood. To find the value of your property, the Property Appraiser must first know what properties have sold, and how much they are selling for in today's market. That is why we maintain an accurate data base of real estate information. Each transaction must be studied to make sure it was an arms-length transaction, meaning that a willing seller sold to a willing buyer without any undue pressure or special incentives (such as family relationships), and that the property was on the market for neither an excessive nor short period of time. Once this is determined, we can determine the value of a property from sales of comparable properties. This is the sales comparison approach to valuation. The second method used to appraise property is the cost approach. The cost approach is based on how much it would cost today to build an almost identical structure on the parcel. If your property is not new, the appraiser must also determine how much the building has lost value over time. The appraiser must also determine the value of the land itself - without buildings or any improvements. The income approach is the third method used to evaluate property - usually commercial property. It requires a study of how much revenue your property would produce if it were rented as an apartment house, a store, an office building and so on. The appraiser must consider operating expenses, taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, and the return or profit most people would expect on your kind of property. In August of each year, the Wakulla County Property Appraiser sends a Truth in Millage (TRIM) Notice to all property owners as required by law. This Notice is very important -- look for it in the mail! You'll recognize it by prominent lettering, 'DO NOT PAY - This is not a bill.' The TRIM Notice tells you the taxable value of your property. Taxable value is the just value less any exemptions. The TRIM Notice also gives you information on proposed millage rates and taxes as estimated by your community taxing authorities. It also tells you when and where these authorities will hold public meetings to discuss tentative budgets to set your millage tax rates. Fees not related to your property value may also appear on your TRIM notice for garbage collection, roads, lighting and other government services. These fees set by your taxing authority are not affected by any changes in the value of your house or property. If you think the taxable value shown on your TRIM Notice is not correct, you are encouraged to contact the Wakulla County Property Appraiser's Office to speak with an appraiser. The appraiser can show you the information that was used to determine your property's value. If after this review you still feel your assessed value is incorrect, you have a right to petition the County Value Adjustment Board. Petition forms are available from our office and from the Clerk of the Court's Office. You must file your petition on or before the 25th day after the mailing date of the TRIM Notice in order for your complaint to be heard by the Value Adjustment Board. In addition to determining values, the Property Appraiser accepts applications for and administers property tax exemptions. It is the responsibility of the Property Appraiser to determine that your property is appraised correctly. Our goal is to be fair and accurate using the most current resources and considering those forces which impact property values in your neighborhood. Please feel free to call or visit our office if you need any additional information. One of our customer service assistants will be happy to help you.
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