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Tuesday, July 31 2018

Declaring your Florida Homestead and its impact on You!

Florida’s Save our Homes (SOH) has many benefits including a reduction in the real estate tax for people who homestead their property. To illustrate how this impacts you, this blog will assume that you just bought a house on Sanibel and that you paid $700,000. For tax purposes, your house will typically be assessed at between 85% and 95% of the sales price.  For this example, assume that your house was assessed at $600,000. Sarah ashton blog save our homes
homestead exemption florida A simple way to think about how real estate taxes are computed is that your real estate taxes are the product of the assessed value times the mill rate where 1 mill is equivalent to $1 in taxes per $1,000 in assessed value. So, if your property has an assessed value of $600,000, and you’re assessed a 1 mill tax rate, you’ll pay $600 in taxes.
The typical Sanibel tax bill has well over a dozen tax categories each with its own mill rate. One such category is titled “Lee County General Revenue” and it has a mill rate of roughly 4. That means that you will be taxed $2,400 ($600,000 x 0.004) for just this one category.  Another entry is titled “Public School – by Local Board” and it has a mill rate of roughly 2.2. So, this tax category would add approximately $1,320 to your overall real estate tax bill. Sarah ashton blog save our homes
Sarah ashton blog save our homes Most of the tax categories that comprise your tax bill are favorably impacted if you homestead your property. When computing each tax category you can reduce the assessed value by $25,000 if the category is school related and you can reduce the assessed value by $50,000 for the vast majority of categories that are not school related. Table 1 shows how the homestead exemption is applied to the two previously discussed tax categories for the first tax year of ownership.

Tax Category

Mill Rate

Assessed Value w/o Homestead

Tax Liability

Assessed Value with Homestead

Tax Liability

Lee County General Revenue






Public School – by Local Board






Table 1:  Initial Impact of SOH

Applying the homestead exemption to each tax category would result in a total tax savings of roughly $750 in the first year of home ownership.
Sarah ashton blog save our homes

One of the most interesting aspects of SOH is how it impacts taxes over time. If you have homesteaded your property, the amount that your assessed value can increase on an annual basis is the lesser of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 3%.  If you have not homesteaded your property you assessed value can increase by as much as 10% on an annual basis.

As shown in Table 2, the SOH savings can be considerable over time. A subsequent blog will discuss another powerful feature of SOH – portability.

This example and these numbers are only for illustration purposes.  Different situations and changes in legislation can affect the calculations.  Please review any numbers with your tax professional.


Assessment w/o SOH


Assessment with SOH


Annual Savings

Cumulative Savings







































































Table 2:  SOH Savings Over Time

Sarah Ashton, Broker Associate
ReMax of the Islands
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Posted by: AT 09:10 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 23 2018

When working with a Realtor to find that perfect property, you will be given the Listing Information Sheets of properties from the local Multiple Listing Service.  These sheets provide a wealth of information about the property for sale.   Everything from the types of windows to the view out the windows is presented.  While all this is extremely helpful it is important to be a critical consumer.

sanibel real estate

Some examples of where there can be some inadvertent mis-information on these sheets include the square footage and the property taxes.  These fields are often auto-populated by the feed from the Property Appraiser’s website.  The square footage could be total square footage or it could be only the air-conditioned area square footage.  The taxes, while likely accurate, don’t necessarily tell you whether the property was under a homestead exemption.  This could mean that the amount on the sheet would be much lower than the new buyer of the property would ultimately pay.  Also, if the listing is older, the property taxes may be last year’s amount versus the current amount.

Sometimes the information on listing sheets is input incorrectly, or just isn’t right.  Flooring is a good example.  Sometimes the laminate floorings that are used today look so authentic that the material listed for flooring may not be the promised “Wood” flooring. 

sanibel real estate

A very critical piece of information on listing sheets for properties on Sanibel and Captiva are the windows.  We are often interested if the property has impact glass windows which can mean a lower insurance bill.  The listing sheet may indicate that there are impact glass windows but may not tell you that all of the windows are not impact glass. 

Bottom line – do not assume that all that is written is completely accurate.  Be a critical consumer and do your due diligence.  You will be happy you did!

Give me a call or use my Contact Form and I can find you the perfect property on Sanibel Island or Captiva Island! I live here and I can answer your questions about these islands and the current real estate market.

You can also check out current listings through my website property search Here!

Sarah Ashton, Broker Associate
ReMax of the Islands
Web Contact Form

Posted by: AT 08:18 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, July 10 2018

Five Quick Tips for Selling your Home – The Outside

There is no doubt that first impressions are very important when trying to sell your home. Some folks will drive past a house they thought they were interested in, but when the prospective buyers see the front they are turned off.  Frequently, these negative first impressions can be softened or eliminated with a few inexpensive and quick ideas.

sanibel real estate

First, prune the outside vegetation – particularly the driveway and walkways leading to the house.

This creates an invitation for buyers to come onto the property. This is also a good idea whether you are selling, or if you are just still living there yourself.  It is safer for you, and it keeps bugs and critters away from the house.

Second, put a fresh coat of paint on the front door(s) and trim any vegetation around the door.

A gallon of paint is a small investment to improve your home, and it shows you have maintained your property. 

sanibel real estate
sanibel real estate

Third, clean up the yard and remove any lawn implements or children’s toys.  

You don’t want anything on the property to distract prospective buyers. You want buyers to envision themselves in the property and it is difficult when there are possessions from the current owner around the property.

Fourth, add a bit of color.

It is always great when there are flowers or plants that is blooming to add a dash of color to the front of a property.  Folks like to see  color in and around their Island property.  Flowers help remind them that they are no longer in a winter climate! Orchids work well as their blossoms last quite a while

sanibel real estate

Sell your sanibel home

Fifth, Maintain it!

This is the hard part.  Making the initial push to clean up and freshen up the property is easier the first time.  Unfortunately, homes go on the market and often don’t sell right away.  It is important that the impression the 10th prospective buyer gets is very similar to the first.  You want them to feel "Wow!"

Sarah Ashton, Broker Associate
ReMax of the Islands
Web Contact Form

Posted by: AT 11:20 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

Servicing the Real Estate Needs of Buyers and Sellers on Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

Sarah S. Ashton, Broker Associate, Realtor®
Keller Williams
22440 Palm Ridge Rd, Unit 4
Sanibel, FL 33957

Mobile: 239.691.4915
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