County property values drop 22.7 percent over year
Lee County property values are in a free fall, plummeting 22.7 percent from last year.
Though the number is not as bad as previously predicted — preliminary numbers estimated values dropping more than 24 percent — the figure does indicate that Lee homeowners have lost significantly on their investments.
“It’s huge,” said Lee County Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson. “They lost a third of their value from one year to the next.”
The hardest hit area was the Lehigh Acres Fire Control District, which saw property values drop 48.6 percent.
The city of Fort Myers saw its values drop 20.2 percent, and Bonita Springs’ values dropped 16.5 percent.
Cape Coral’s values were not as bad as originally estimated, but homeowners will see their property values decrease by 32.7 percent.
Mayor Jim Burch and city staff were expecting a 35 percent drop.
“A little bit better is always better than worse,” Burch said Wednesday on the phone from Washington, D.C. “I’m hoping this is the last decrease we see, and things start to go up.”
Much like the Cape, the overall percentage change for Lee County was expected to come in at a different number.
Originally predicted to hit 25 percent, Wilkinson said the estimated numbers are merely a worst case scenario.
Wilkinson added that he does not like to predict when revenues will turn around.
“I will say we’re starting to see people bid on properties, and it appears to be cash sales, which are good,” he said. “If we have enough sales in the fourth quarter, that’s what we stress … there could be a turnaround. It’s too early to tell.”
Wilkinson and his staff have sent the numbers to Tallahassee for their final approval.
After the numbers are approved, it is up to the 92 separate taxing authorities in Lee County to recommend the millage.
Lee County has more taxing authorities than any other county in the state of Florida.
“We’re done with our half. Now it’s up to the taxing authorities to do the rest,” Wilkinson said.