Foreclosures on the rise in Gilchrist County
By: Carrie A. Mizell
Home foreclosures have nearly tripled what they were four years ago in Gilchrist County.
A harsh reality for a number of local families who may be faced with too high a mortgage payment, or job loss, the loss of one’s home to bank foreclosure has risen to affect 121 local families in 2009.
According to Lyndsay Ayers, deputy clerk at the Gilchrist County Clerk’s Office, the number of foreclosures countywide has risen from last year’s rate of 94 homes and jumped drastically from the 43 homes that were reportedly foreclosed on in the county in 2005.
As Gilchrist County Property Appraiser Damon Leggett pointed out during a recent legislative delegation hearing held in Trenton, home values in the county have been decreasing while taxes are increasing as a result of Florida’s Save Our Homes annual cap on tax assessments, which mandates that many homeowners’ taxable values rise even if their home’s market worth falls, which is in effect if a home’s market value remains above its taxable value.
Leggett asked Senator Steve Oelrich and Representative Debbie Boyd to help pass legislation that would freeze home values, or let a home’s assessed value be what taxes are based on.
The property appraiser pointed out the increased number of foreclosures in the county to the legislators and speculated that Gilchrist County residents may have to wait two to five years before their home values increase.
“We’re now hearing it could be a three to five year downward cycle,” Leggett said on Tuesday.
As he told local AARP members during their luncheon meeting on Tuesday, Leggett said it is hard to know what the future will bring.
“Until the banks change their methodology and allow people to borrow money again ... I just don’t know,” Leggett explained.
“What we should be doing is asking the banks in our area what there plans are, and where this will go if no one can borrow money,” Leggett said.