While the percentage increase is small, it’s the first rise since 2006, and a huge improvement over the dismal record of the recent past, such as the 12 percent plunge in 2010.
“Compared to where we were six years ago, this is good news,” Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits said.
But the wealth wasn’t spread evenly. High-income cities, particularly along the ocean, saw the biggest increase, while many poorer cities saw decreases continue.
Posting the biggest increase, 2.7 percent, was the wealthy northern Palm Beach County town of Jupiter Inlet Colony, followed by Palm Beach, Ocean Ridge, Highland Beach, Atlantis, Boca Raton, Tequesta, Palm Beach Gardens, Gulfstream and Manalapan.
The biggest decrease, a drop of nearly 15 percent in a single year, came in the poor Lake Okeechobee town of Pahokee, followed by Glenridge, Cloud Lake, Belle Glade, Palm Springs, Lake Worth, Greenacres, Palm Beach Shores, Briny Breezes and Lake Park.
“Since people in the middle income and below are having a hard time in this economy, the properties that they would buy are having a difficult time as well,” said John Thomas, Director of Residential Appraisal Services for the Property Appraiser’s Office.
Although some well-off inland communities such as Wellington and Palm Beach Gardens showed increases, the cities with the biggest increases tended to be on the ocean.
“Those areas are very desirable, and as they say, they aren’t making any more ocean,” Thomas said. “Those cities are doing very well.”
Real estate professionals in Palm Beach County say the increase in the tax rolls matches their experience, as they see prices firm up, investors return to the market and people move forward with long-delayed plans to move to new homes.
“People stayed in the same homes for years, waiting for the market to stabilize, and now it has,” said Scott Agran, head of Boca Raton-based Lang Realty. “Demand is much greater than supply.”
Although demand for ultra-luxury homes remains relatively soft, there’s high demand for houses priced at $1 million and below, he said.