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Cape Realtors get 411 on UEP assessment areas

By Staff | Jun 24, 2009

The mantra of “location, location, location” is taking on new meaning for Cape Coral Realtors dealing with property in Southwest 6/7 and North 1-8.
Realtor and Councilmember Gloria Tate gathered about 100 local Realtors and residents in council chambers Tuesday to learn more about how the progression of the utilities expansion project in those areas will affect how they sell properties there.
The UEP will bring water, sewer and irrigation utilities to SW 6/7 and water to North 1-8, and property owners there are already receiving their assessment notices.
Assessments and fees average $17,000 in SW 6/7 and $6,000 in North 1-8.
Tate acknowledged the project’s controversial nature, but tried to focus the meeting on providing professional information.
“Tonight is not about water and sewer in Cape Coral and whether or not you think it’s a good idea,” she said.
Financial Services Director Mark Mason outlined three payment plans available to those with assessed properties: initial prepayment option, amortized payment option and deferred payment option.
The initial prepayment option allows the property owner to pay the assessment in full upfront and receive a 20 percent discount.
The deadline to choose this option is Sept. 18 in SW 6/7 and Oct. 23 in North 1-8.
Residents who opt for the amortized payment option can finance their assessment payments over 20 years, with the payment showing up on their tax bill.
For a 10,000-square-foot lot, the estimated annual payment would be $1,053 in North 1-8, and $2,750 in SW 6/7. Those figures are based on the city’s estimated maximum annual interest rate of 7.5 percent.
The amortized payments will not begin to show on tax bills until 2012.
There is also a deferment option, in which residents can opt to put off payments for 10 years.
However, compounding interest will accrue, leading to a final cost of $16,570 for a 10,000-square-foot property in North 1-8 and a cost of $36,251 for a similarly sized lot in SW 6/7 at the end of the 10 years if no payments have been made.
Mason said he hoped the options cleared up any lingering confusion on the part of Realtors or residents.
“Apparently a lot of folks seem to think that they’ll have to pay (the assessments) today,” he said.
Realtors’ questions focused on the deferment option, since many figured that the harsh economic times will make it the most attractive option for residents.
Mason explained that assessments are assigned to the property, not the owner, and are due and payable when the property is transferred.
“The assessments accrue to the property, they don’t accrue to the owner,” he said.
That means the assessment and accumulated interest are to be tacked on to the sale price of any property that chooses the deferral option.
Despite Tate’s plea to refrain from debating the UEP, one resident decried the project Tuesday.
“Are you kidding me with this? This is not going to help the real estate market in Cape Coral,” said Jeremy Feraci, a SW 6/7 resident who is not a Realtor, before being admonished by others in the audience to stay on topic.
Public information meetings regarding the UEP assessments are scheduled for July 7-9 at 5:30 p.m. at Mariner High School.