Palm Beach County‘s total taxable property value has increased for the fifth consecutive year, rising to a level not seen since the peak of the housing boom, according to preliminary estimates released Friday.
That’s good news for residents’ home values and local governments’ budgets, but it could also mean higher tax bills.
Taxable values increased nearly 7.9 percent this year, totaling $164.5 billion countywide, according to County Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits. That’s nearing the historic high of $169.5 billion reached in 2007.
But the most recent economic indicators show growth could be slowing, said Ken Johnson, a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University.
“We are seeing a rebound, but we are seeing a slowdown of the rebound,” Johnson said. “We seem to have learned on the residential side that prices can get too high.”
The latest estimates show a more “reasonable appreciation rate” than the last few years, tempering fears that the county could be headed for another housing bubble, Nikolits said Friday.
Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker said recently she would not recommend lowering the property tax rate. Because values have increased, homeowners would pay more.
Residents with a homestead exemption won’t face as much of an increase. Their tax property tax increases are capped at 0.7 percent under state law.
The projected property values could still change when final estimates are released by July 1. Property owners in August receive notices with their estimated taxable values and the proposed tax rates.
Delray Beach posted one of the biggest boosts in property values, going up about 10 percent to $8.8 billion citywide, according to the estimates. Mayor Cary Glicktein attributed this to the surge in values on Atlantic Avenue.
It’s too early, he said, to say whether he’ll recommend lowering the tax rate to adjust for the new revenue. The city is facing a long list of repair projects to roads, pipes and city buildings delayed during the Great Recession, Glickstein said.
“Like a lot of coastal cities in Palm Beach County, we’ve all fallen a bit behind on those capital improvements,” he said. “It’s a struggle to deliver the level of service that our taxpayers expect and also stay on top of that maintenance.”
Delray Beach and other cities could get relief if voters approve a referendum to raise the sales tax from 6 cents per dollar to 7 cents. That would generate $2.7 billion over 10 years to improve aging schools, roads and bridges.
Elsewhere in the south part of the county, Boca Raton properties went up nearly 6.7 percent to $20.1 billion, and Boynton Beach rose 7.7 percent to $5 billion.
Cities farther north also posted big gains, including Lake Worth at 11.7 percent and West Palm Beach at 10.4 percent.
Interest remains high in Palm Beach County with some sellers garnering multiple offers, said Judy Ramella, president of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches.
“The market is still hot,” she said. “It’s still a seller’s market.”
The median home price in Palm Beach County stood at $307,125 in April, up 4 percent from a year ago, according to the Realtors Association.
While the rising values are great for investors, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for low and moderate income families to find affordable properties, said Peter Reed, managing principal with Commercial Florida Realty Services.
“It’s all wonderful that values are up, but let’s hope we don’t price ourselves out of the market,” he said.
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Percentage increases in taxable property values
Palm Beach County: 7.85 percent
Atlantis: 5.09 percent
Belle Glade: 5.88 percent
Boca Raton: 6.7 percent
Boynton Beach:7.74 percent
Briny Breezes: 7.31 percent
Cloud Lake: 3.65 percent
Delray Beach: 10.12 percent
Glenridge: 4.13 percent
Greenacres: 8.38 percent
Gulf Stream: 5.49 percent
Haverhill: 8.21 percent
Highland Beach: 6.54 percent
Hypoluxo: 6.77 percent
Juno Beach: 12.89 percent
Jupiter: 8.94 percent
Jupiter Inlet Colony: 8.42 percent
Lake Clark Shores: 7.01 percent
Lake Park: 9.58 percent
Lake Worth: 11.65 percent
Lantana: 9.10 percent
Loxahatchee Groves: 15.62 percent
Manalapan: 9.9 percent
Mangonia Park: 10.28 percent
North Palm Beach: 6.58 percent
Ocean Ridge: 7.48 percent
Pahokee: 3.23 percent
Palm Beach: 8.3 percent
Palm Beach Gardens: 6.98 percent
Palm Beach Shores: 3.42 percent
Palm Springs: 10.89 percent
Riviera Beach: 7.5 percent
Royal Palm Beach: 9.86 percent
South Bay: 4.93 percent
South Palm Beach: 7.89 percent
Tequesta: 7.5 percent
Village of Golf: 9.47 percent
Wellington: 7.79 percent
West Palm Beach: 10.43 percent
SOURCE: Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office