Cinnamon Beach Condo Tax Assessments Adjusted Downward

Rental property manager leads successful tax assessment appeal.

Palm Coast, Florida – September 19, 2008 – The Cinnamon Beach Condominium Association Board, headed by Hugh Peters, had voted to not appeal the condominiums’ 2008 assessed values. Since some assessments were high and others low, the board could not act on behalf of all owners. In stepped Steve Milo. Steve owns a unit in Cinnamon Beach but he also owns Vacation Rental Pros which handles rentals for 120 units in the 275 unit complex. As a result of Milo’s efforts, the average condo owner will pay over $400 less when their tax bill arrives (at the currently proposed millage rate).
Steve enlisted the support of unit owners, about 130 of whom granted him power of attorney. He then enlisted the Chiumento and Guntharp law firm and appraiser Rik Bass to build a case to take to the Flagler County Property Appraiser.
2008 appraisals are based on sales data from 2007. The appraiser’s office uses average aggregate sales prices to determine values. Chiumento and Bass were able to point out to the Property Appraiser some important facts:
  • The highest price recorded sale was not really a sale but a "deed in lieu of foreclosure." In such a transaction, the property is titled back to the lender for the outstanding balance of the loan. This value is not reflective of the true market, so this transaction should be discarded from consideration.
  • None of the less valuable lakeside units sold in 2007. This disproportionately raised the average aggregate price.
  • Several units were sold with "buyer incentives" such as furniture and/or golf or club memberships. The value of buyer incentives should not be included in the value assessment.
Milo praised the Property Appraiser’s office for their good faith efforts. He also gives much credit to the Chiumento firm and to Rik Bass. With this year’s sales prices running 25% below those of 2007, the team is already preparing themselves to monitor 2009 assessments. The condominium board was unwilling to risk acting on behalf of all condominium owners. Milo’s group took the risk, and won a reduction and all unit owners will share the benefit.
Note:  Taxes are not set by the Property Appraiser. The Property Appraiser’s duty is to assure that each property is assessed at the proper level relative to similar property. Taxes are determined by elected officials when they set millage rates.
4 replies
  1. Jim
    Jim says:



    I agree with both of you in some respects. I am an Ocean Hammock homeowner and while I agree the initiative was good and the result was great, it would have been nice if Mr. Milo’s group would have offered the community property owners to join in the cause. I am a neighbor with a board member and they were not aware any movement was in process. Land and home owners were left in the cold while condo owners received benefits. Good for them, but I am sure many, if not all land owners would have liked to have a chance to be a part of this.

    Great site, Toby ! Keep it up.

  2. George Meegan
    George Meegan says:

    Property Values are different by many factors

    The valuation of Real Property has to be based on comperable properties. They only exist within the developements that are the same. That requires detailed analysis for the assessor and the chalanger of an assessment. Since the values dropped more in one place than another, doing a blanket chalange to assessments is expensive and can’t be done timely by one firm or indivual. The work does not require an agent with specific credentials, as you can do it yourself and prevail if all your ducks are in a row. The sales data is available in the courthouse records and assessors office. Groups in specific developements with comperable properties can do it together or hire a professional, but the cost may be more than the savings.

  3. Toby
    Toby says:

    Reply to Frank

    I take a different view. The condo board, after a long delay, was too timid to proceed. About 130 owners, not just one individual, risked their own money to challenge the tax assessment. They won. As a result, the other owners benefitted, including the members of the board who did not want to take the risk. It seems obvious to me that the board missed an opportunity to do the right thing.

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