The Cloud over the Sunshine State

It was recently reported that Florida’s population dropped by 58,000 last year. This is a big deal since it’s the state’s first population loss since the end of World War II. Florida is being hit hard by the recession and housing bust. It’s so bad that many folks simply can’t afford to sell their homes.

The small Florida town where I have a home significantly raised its tax assessments. The town did this when many residents were out of state and unavailable to protest. Some local Florida communities are chasing residents out of the state with outrageous property assessments. High property taxes have had devastating consequences in Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties, so I don’t expect the housing markets to improve there any time soon.

On Saturday, I received my proposed property taxes on my Florida home, which are due to rise 13% if there’s no budget agreement, and 10.7% if there is a budget agreement. Since most Florida residents have a homestead exemption, their property tax increases are capped. New residents are taxed at substantially higher rates, which many explain why the housing problem in Florida is also related to high property taxes.

As a consequence of a poor economy and high property taxes, 12% of all Florida mortgages were in the foreclosure process in the second quarter. Almost one-fourth of Florida mortgages are late on their payments or under threat of foreclosure.

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