Frequently Asked Questions

TECHNICAL QUESTIONS

When I print, the pages get cut off.

How can I print only one page?

SEARCH QUESTIONS

What is the best way to search for an address?

Why isn't zoning displayed on the property record?

Why aren't the numbers of bathrooms and bedrooms listed?

Where will I find a copy of a deed?

How do I find a previous owner's name?

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION / SAVE OUR HOMES QUESTIONS

What documents do I need to apply for Homestead Exemption?

Can I transfer my homestead exemption from one home to another?

What is the Save Our Homes amendment and how does it affect me?

Can I transfer my Save Our Homes Cap from one home to another?

Will I lose my exemption or Save Our Homes Cap if I add another owner to the deed?

Can I file for my exemption online?

Is there a deadline to file for an exemption?

How do I let my lender know I have an exemption?

What other exemptions are available?

PROPERTY VALUE INFORMATION

How can you say that my property is worth $150,000 when I paid $250,000 for it three years ago?

What happens if I receive my TRIM notice in early August, and I believe that the proposed value placed on my property is incorrect?

My insurance company just appraised my house. Why is it so much lower than my TOTAL market value?

What is "Highest and Best Use"?

What happens if the real estate market goes down?

How is land valued?

What guidelines does the Property Appraiser follow in determining property value?

Why are my taxes increasing when the assessment on my home is going down?


When I print, the pages get cut off.

Use the "Print" option instead of trying to print from your toolbar. "Print" is located to the right of the "Data Current As Of..." line.

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How can I print only one page?

Change the setting on your computer's print options to print "current page" or "print from page 1 to 1" , etc.

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What is the best way to search for an address?

Sometimes, "less is more" when it comes to searching for a particular address. You do not need to enter a complete address. For example, let's say you are searching for 1234 Main Street, Clearwater, Fl 33765. Entering "Main"(without quotation marks) into the "Address" field will return all addresses on "Main Street", "Main Ave", "Main Lane", etc. There are also hints listed directly on the Search page, with links to assist in searches for US Highway 19, and the various Martin Luther King, Jr addresses, which are a little different in each city.

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Why isn't zoning displayed on the property record?

Pinellas County is home to 24 incorporated municipalities plus the unincorporated areas. Each municipality and the unincorporated areas have their own zoning regulations. Tracking and maintaining ever changing zoning information would most likely lead to inaccurate and/or out of date information. We advise any zoning questions be directed to the municipality in which the property is located, or the Pinellas County Building Department webpage if the property lies in an unincorporated area.

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Why aren't the number of bathrooms and bedrooms listed?

Bathrooms are expressed in terms of fixtures. A fixture, in essence, is the hole through which water runs. For instance, a property record card that lists 5 fixtures would translate to one and one-half bathrooms; that is, the full bath might include one fixture for a single sink, one fixture for a shower/tub combination, and one fixture for the toilet. The half-bath may be a toilet and a sink (two fixtures), for a total of five. A sink in a laundry room or utility room is not counted as a fixture.

Bedrooms are not listed because all measurements are taken from the outside of a home, and specific rooms are not broken out. Many times bedrooms are used as a den, study, or storage room and not used as bedrooms at all.

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Where will I find a copy of a deed?

If there is an instrument associated with the parcel, a red, Adobe Acrobat symbol () will appear to the right of the Book/Page number. Click on they symbol to connect to the Clerk's office to view the instrument. (If you follow the link to the Clerk of the Circuit Court's office, you will be redirected from the Property Appraiser site and connected with the Clerk's website. Any questions that arise while viewing that page should be directed to the Clerk's office.)

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How do I find a previous owner's name?

We keep track of the current ownership. Prior owners can be found by searching the Official Records book and page numbers from prior sales by connecting to the Clerk of the Circuit Court's office via the red Adobe Acrobat symbol . (If you follow the link to the Clerk of the Circuit Court's office, you will be redirected from the Property Appraiser site and connected with the Clerk's website. Any questions that arise while viewing that page should be directed to the Clerk's office.)

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What documents do I need to apply for Homestead Exemption?

Bring evidence of residency and qualifications for all owners, including spouses, when filing:

NOTE: Disclosure of your social security number is mandatory. It is required by section 196.011(1), Florida Statutes.

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Can I transfer my homestead exemption from one home to another?

No. YOU NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR YOUR EXEMPTION IF: Property granted an exemption is sold or otherwise disposed of; when ownership changes in any manner; when the applicant for homestead exemption ceases to use the property as his or her homestead; or when the status of the owner changes so as to change the exempt status of the property. 196.011 (9) (a) F.S.

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Can I transfer my Save Our Homes Cap from one home to another?

On January 29, 2008, Florida voters passed Amendment 1 which included a provision for portability of the Save Our Homes cap. For more information on the Amendment, examples of portability, and to learn about our portability calculator, click here.

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Will I Lose My Homestead Exemption if I add someone to my deed?

Adding names to the ownership of your home normally does not change your Homestead Exemption, BUT you may lose all or part of the protection your property receives from the Save Our Homes (SOH) assessment limitation or "cap". The SOH cap keeps the assessed value of your home from increasing more than 3% per year as long as you maintain your Homestead Exemption. A loss of protection from the SOH cap will increase the amount of property taxes you pay.

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Will I lose my Save Our Homes Cap if I add someone to my deed?

Maybe, depending on how you own the property (the "tenancy"), and if the new owner files for Homestead Exemption on your property. "Tenancy" is the term used to describe the way property is owned, the relationship between the owners, and what happens to the property when an owner dies. The most common forms of tenancy are tenancy by the entireties, joint tenants with right of survivorship, and tenants in common. If two or more people own property with a homestead exemption, the type of tenancy that appears on the deed can have an effect on the "Save Our Homes" (SOH) provision, and ultimately the amount of taxes that are owed.

If the new owner is your spouse, or someone who is legally or naturally dependent on you, he or she must apply for homestead exemption. Your current Save Our Homes cap will not be adjusted.

Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship:

If the new owner is a joint tenant with right of survivorship, and he or she DOES NOT apply for Homestead Exemption, your SOH cap WILL NOT be adjusted.

If the new owner is a joint tenant with right of survivorship and DOES apply for Homestead Exemption, your SOH cap WILL be adjusted to market value and start anew the following year. In future years, the SOH Cap will protect 100% of the property.

One Important Note! If the new owner is living with you and intends to make the property his or her permanent residence, it may make more sense to apply for the new Homestead Exemption now rather than waiting until a later date. Your Homestead Exemption and SOH cap protects only you, and not the new owner. In the future if you no longer reside in this home, the new owner will have to apply at that time, and the property value and taxes will most certainly be much higher than they are now.

Tenants in Common

If the new owner is a tenant in common and DOES NOT apply for homestead exemption, your SOH cap WILL BE adjusted to protect only your proportionate or "percent" interest in the property. The "percent" interest of any owner who does not have homestead exemption will be assessed at market value each year.

If the new owner DOES apply for Homestead Exemption, your SOH cap WILL BE adjusted to market value and start anew the following year.

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Can I "undo" or cancel a deed that is already recorded?

If the wording of your current deed has consequences that you did not intend, you may want to consider a corrective deed. Please consult an attorney, title company or other real estate professional to help you prepare your corrective deed. The Property Appraiser's office cannot advise you, since there are many serious considerations that go beyond how homestead exemption is calculated, including income and estate tax consequences. We recommend that you never attempt to change your deed without the help of a professional.

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Are there other ways of transferring my property for estate planning that will not disturb my Homestead Exemption or SOH Cap?

Two methods of transferring your property will, in most cases, keep your Homestead Exemption and SOH intact: reserve a Life Estate for yourself or transfer your property to your trust. Please consult your attorney or estate planning professional before attempting either option.

If you transfer your property to a trust, your attorney should know that three criteria are required in order for your Homestead Exemption and SOH cap to remain intact:

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Can my attorney contact you if he or she needs to?

Absolutely! You, your attorney or your estate planning professional are encouraged to call our Exemptions Department at (727) 464-3294.

PLEASE CONSULT YOUR ATTORNEY OR ESTATE PLANNING PROFESSIONAL. THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED ONLY TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.

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Can I file for my exemption online?

Yes! When you purchase a home and want to apply for an exemption, you may file online or at one of our offices. Click here for more information.

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Is there a deadline to file for an exemption?

You may file anytime during the year, but before the state's deadline of March 1 for the tax year in which you wish to qualify. However, you are urged to file AS SOON AS POSSIBLE once you own, occupy and make that home your legal residence

If you received your homestead exemption for the previous year and still occupy, own, and make that residence your permanent home, a receipt will be mailed to you early in January. You only need to notify the Property Appraiser's office if you no longer qualify for these exemptions or if you think you qualify for additional exemptions.

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How do I let my lender know I have an exemption?

You can print a letter from the information page about your property that you can forward to your lender. This letter states that you have qualified for an exemption and gives an estimate of taxes for the year. Search for your parcel using name, address, or parcel number. Click on the parcel number from the results to get to the General Information page. Find the "Mortgage Letter" link near the top and follow instructions.

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What other exemptions are available?

Visit the Exemptions page for further information.

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PROPERTY VALUE INFORMATION

How can you say that my property is worth $150,000 when I paid $250,000 for it three years ago?

The current valuation reflects changes in the real estate market since you purchased the property. Sales that have taken place in the last three years indicate that the market value of your property has decreased.

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What happens if I receive my TRIM notice in early August, and I believe that the proposed value of my property is incorrect?

We encourage you first to informally discuss your value with a member of the Property Appraiser's staff. Our goal is to determine that your property is appraised equitably and accurately. In fact, no taxing authority can pressure us into setting a value higher than it should be.

If, after conferring with one of our appraisers, you believe your value is higher than market value, we encourage you to file a petition with the Pinellas County Value Adjustment Board (VAB). The VAB has voted to collect a non-refundable $15.00 filing fee for petitions to the board. Petitions and fees are to be filed at the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court.

Can you win a reduction before the Value Adjustment Board? Yes, you can if you prove that your appraisal exceeded market value. But if you base your case on a personal hardship, such as living on a fixed income or an inability to pay any more taxes, the unfortunate answer is "no". However, you may be eligible for the tax deferral plan administered by the Tax Collector's office. Information regarding the plan is included with the tax bill you receive in November. The fact that your value increased from last year to this year is not a basis to reduce this year's appraised value, since each year's assessment stands alone.

The Value Adjustment Board does not set the millage rate and has no jurisdiction over taxes. The only questions the Special Magistrate determines is whether the appraised value of a property exceeds its market value as of January 1, and if you were qualified to receive an exemption to which you were denied.

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My insurance company just appraised my house. Why is it so much lower than my TOTAL market value?

An appraisal made for insurance purposes does not include land.

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What is the Save Our Homes amendment and how does it affect me?

The Florida Constitution was amended effective January 1, 1995, to limit annual increases in assessed value of property with Homestead Exemption to three percent or the amount of the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower. No assessment, though, shall exceed current fair market value. This limitation applies only to property value, not property taxes.

When a house is sold, the new owner will be assessed at the current fair market value. The property will fall under the limitations the year after the new owner receives their new Homestead Exemption.

If additions or improvements are made to the property, the value of those improvements will be added to the roll regardless of the cap. For example, if a pool is added to a property, the value can increase no more than 3% plus the value of the pool. If we correct such items as size, number of bathroom fixtures, installation of heat and/or air conditioning, the value of those corrections will also be added to the roll above the 3% cap.

The cap does not apply to properties that are not homesteaded or rented. Multi-family properties may qualify based on percentage of use. For example, if you own a duplex, live in one half and rent the other half to a tenant, only 1/2 of your property value will be capped.

The cap remains in effect upon the change of title due to marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse as long as the original qualifying owner continues to live on the property as their permanent address. 

In multiple owner situations where not everyone receives a Homestead Exemption, only the percentage of ownership the homesteaded owner possesses will be covered under the Save Our Homes cap. For two owners with one homesteaded and the other not, only half of the value of the property will be protected. If another non-homesteaded owner is added, the capped percentage drops to one third.

To learn about transferring, or "Portability", of the Save Our Homes Cap, click here.

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What is "Highest and Best Use"?

Highest and Best Use is that use which will generate the highest net return to the property over a reasonable period of time. For a more detailed explanation, click on FL Law Governing Assessments from the menu at left.

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What happens if the real estate market goes down?

Florida law sets January 1 as the assessment date each year for determining both value and exemption eligibility. While January 1 is the date used for setting your assessed value for the August TRIM Notice and November tax bill, the value is based upon the market value for similar properties in the same or comparable subdivisions during January 2 of last year to January 1 of this year. If market values dropped last year, resulting in lower sales prices, this will be reflected on this year's tax bill. Likewise, in a year when values increase, those increases will not be reflected until the tax bill the following year.

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How is land valued?

Land is valued based on the market or comparative sales approach. The location of the land is a major factor in determining its value. For example, land located near the water is generally more valuable than land located inland. Sale properties are analyzed and compared. Units of comparison such as square feet, acreage and front foot are used to develop land value from the sale properties. These land values are then applied to non-sale properties based on their comparability.

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What guidelines does the Property Appraiser follow in determining property value?

The Property Appraiser and staff must abide by the Florida State Constitution and the Florida Statutes. The Florida Department of Revenue also issues a manual of instructions which conforms to the intent of the previously mentioned documents. The office also ascribes to the practices and standards of the International Association of Assessing Officers (I.A.A.O.).

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Why are my taxes increasing when the assessment on my home is going down?

There are a couple of reasons this may happen. It may be because your millage rate (tax rate), determined by your local taxing authorities, is increasing. Another reason may be what's known as the "Recapture Rule". In September 1995, Florida's Governor and Cabinet approved a rule directing property appraisers to raise the assessed value of a qualifying homestead property by the maximum of 3% or the annual change in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less, on all properties assessed at less than full market value whether or not that property's value increased during that calendar year. (Click here to view the rule.) If you have the Save Our Homes cap on your property and your just/market value decreases, your assessed value will still increase by the annual cap rate until it reaches the just/market value.

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Save Our Homes Annual Increase

YEAR
CPI
CAP
2017
2.1%
2.1%
2016
0.7%
0.7%
2015
0.8%
0.8%
2014
1.5%
1.5%
2013
1.7%
1.7%
2012
3.0%
3.0%
2011
1.5%
1.5%
2010
2.7%
2.7%
2009
0.10%
0.10%
2008
4.1%
3.0%
2007
2.5%
2.5%
2006
3.4%
3.0%
2005
3.3%
3.0%
2004
1.9%
1.9%
2003
2.4%
2.4%
2002
1.6%
1.6%
2001
3.4%
3.0%
2000
2.7%
2.7%
1999
1.6%
1.6%
1998
1.7%
1.7%
1997
3.3%
3.0%
1996
2.5%
2.5%
1995
2.7%
2.7%

Source: Florida Department of Revenue
http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/property/limitations.html