Did you buy a home in Miromar Lakes this past year? Was our team able to help you do that? If so, congratulations! Whether we did or not, we’re excited to have you in our beautiful area, and we know you’re going to find yourselves as happy as can be once you settle. 


For most, settling is easier said than done. There’s always a laundry list of things to do before and after your move. Packing, loading, the move itself, canceling utilities at your old home and making sure they’re on at your new one. The list goes on! 


What’s worse is that there are plenty of things to keep in mind weeks and months later. Homestead Exemptions are a Florida-specific thing to consider now that we’re in the new year, so let’s talk about what it is and the deadline for applying. 


Welcome to Homeownership


Florida is one-of-a-kind in many ways, but our property tax system is by far one of the secret highlights for those in the know. Learning how it applies to your property can become a great financial advantage. Not only will you begin to understand the benefits towards property taxes, acknowledging homestead exemptions will help you avoid any nasty surprises that might come up in the following years. 


In short, a homestead exemption can result in exempting up to $50,000 of your home’s assessed value from tax liability. This exemption only applies to ACTIVE residents of the property, which means this has to be your primary property throughout the year. Sorry, snowbirds and vacation families – this benefit won’t be aimed for you. 


By default, the first $25,000 applies to any and every eligible property that is applying for a homestead exemption. The remaining $25,000 applies to the assessed value of your home from a range of $50,000 to $75,000.


The Clock Starts Now


Technically, it started on January 1! Every year has the same window for when applications must be sent to Lee County’s Property Appraiser, which you can find here. If you happen to be reading this and from another Florida county, you can find your specific appraiser here


If this is your first application, Florida’s Department of Revenue has a list of questions you should be prepared to answer when submitting:

  • Whose name or names were on the title on Jan. 1?
  • What is your Social Security number and your spouse’s Social Security number?
  • Were you or your dependent(s) living in the dwelling on Jan. 1?
  • Do you claim residency in any other county or state?

Additionally, the appraiser may ask for any and all of these documents to verify residency: 

  • Proof of previous residency outside Florida and the date ended
  • Florida driver license or identification card number
  • Evidence of that a driver license from another state was given up
  • Florida vehicle license plate number
  • Florida voter registration number (if U.S. citizen)
  • Declaration of domicile and residency date
  • Name of current employer
  • Address listed on last IRS return
  • Dependent children’s school location(s)
  • Bank statement and checking account mailing address
  • Proof of payment of utilities at homestead address

Be sure to get started sooner rather than later if you are eligible. The deadline is March 1.


Be Mindful of This Surprise


First-time homeowners are often hit with property taxes that were higher than historical records indicated their home was being appraised for. This is because Florida law requires our appraisers to remove exemptions that the previous homeowner had applied for. The new assessment then becomes the, as you would expect, assessed value with no exemptions made.


What throws individuals off is when they buy a home before the previous homeowner had to pay taxes on the property that particular year. When this happens, the previous owner’s assessed value DOES apply, which reflects the reduced value and saves you money for that year and that year alone. The following year will be updated to account for the reset assessment. Being prepared and cognizant of this on top of applying for a new homestead exemption keeps you ahead of the curve.


While we know a thing or two about homestead exemptions due to our entire team having collected decades of living in Florida, we highly recommend contacting Lee County or your specific county’s property appraiser for specific questions and explanations. 


And remember: if you are on the fence about becoming a Florida resident or simply moving from one home in our state to another, Dina Marie Realty is always here to help. Any one of our expert Agents would love the chance to get you to your new permanent home. We’ll even be sure to send you a reminder to apply for a homestead exemption in 2024! Contact us today.