Real Property is divided into four categories:
residential, commercial, land, and agricultural.
The Bay County Property
Appraiser is responsible for locating, identifying, and fairly valuing
all real and personal property in Bay County for tax purposes. The
'market' value of real property is based on the current real estate market.
Finding the 'market' value of your property means discovering the price
most people would pay for your property in its current condition. Determining
fair and equitable values is the only role this office performs
in the taxing process.
It is important to remember
that the Property Appraiser does not create value. People create value
by buying and selling real estate in the open market place. The Property
Appraiser has the legal responsibility to study those transactions and
appraise your property accordingly. The Property Appraiser also tracks
ownership changes, maintains maps of parcel boundaries, keeps descriptions
of buildings and property characteristics up to date, accepts and approves
applications from individuals eligible for exemptions and other forms of
property tax relief, and, most importantly, analyzes trends in sales prices,
construction costs, and rents to best estimate the value of all assessable
All this must be done
economically - for less than a tenth of what it would cost you to hire
someone to independently appraise your property. In fact, the Bay
County Property Appraiser's Office has been recognized for its state-of-the-art
technological approach to the valuation process. A progressive computer
assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) system is used by experienced appraisers
to ensure that fair values are set for all Bay County property owners.
At least once every five
years, one of our appraisers will visit and inspect each property as required
by Florida law. However, individual property values may be adjusted between
visits in light of sales activity or other factors affecting real estate
values in your neighborhood.
To find the value of your
property, the Property Appraiser must first know what properties have sold,
and how much they are selling for in today's market. That is why we maintain
an accurate data base of real estate information. Each transaction must
be studied to make sure it was an arms-length transaction, meaning that
a willing seller sold to a willing buyer without any undue pressure or
special incentives (such as family relationships), and that the property
was on the market for neither an excessive nor short period of time. Once
this is determined, we can determine the value of a property from sales
of comparable properties. This is the sales comparison approach to valuation.
The second method used
to appraise property is the cost approach. The cost approach is based on
how much it would cost today to build an almost identical structure on
the parcel. If your property is not new, the appraiser must also determine
how much the building has lost value over time. The appraiser must also
determine the value of the land itself - without buildings or any improvements.
The income approach is
the third method used to evaluate property - usually commercial property.
It requires a study of how much revenue your property would produce if
it were rented as an apartment house, a store, an office building and so
on. The appraiser must consider operating expenses, taxes, insurance, maintenance
costs, and the return or profit most people would expect on your kind of
In August of each year,
the Bay County Property Appraiser sends a Truth in Millage (TRIM)
Notice to all property owners as required by law. This Notice is very important
-- look for it in the mail! You'll recognize it by prominent lettering,
'DO NOT PAY - This is not a bill.'
The TRIM Notice tells
you the taxable value of your property. Taxable value is the just value
less any exemptions.
The TRIM Notice also gives
you information on proposed millage rates and taxes as estimated by your
community taxing authorities. It also tells you when and where these authorities
will hold public meetings to discuss tentative budgets to set your millage
Fees not related to your
property value may also appear on your TRIM notice for garbage collection,
roads, lighting and other government services. These fees set by your taxing
authority are not affected by any changes in the value of your house or
If you think the taxable
value shown on your TRIM Notice is not correct, you are encouraged to contact
the Bay County Property Appraiser's Office to speak with an appraiser.
The appraiser can show you the information that was used to determine your
If after this review you still feel your assessed value is incorrect, you have a right to petition the County Value Adjustment Board. Petition forms are available from our office and from the Clerk of the Court's Office. You must file your petition on or before the 25th day after the mailing date of the TRIM Notice in order for your complaint to be heard by the Value Adjustment Board.
Bay County Clerk's Office
300 East 4th Street
Panama City, Fl. 32401
In addition to determining
values, the Property Appraiser accepts applications for and administers
property tax exemptions.
It is the responsibility
of the Property Appraiser to determine that your property is appraised
correctly. Our goal is to be fair and accurate using the most current resources
and considering those forces which impact property values in your neighborhood.
free to call or visit our office if you need any additional information.
One of our customer service assistants will be happy to help you.