Property value trend looking better for Highlands County

For many years since the economic bust we’ve searched for good news - or even just signs that things are getting better. We’ve seen several pop up, even if the local economy still has remained difficult. Another good sign surfaced again this week when Highlands Today reported that the slide in property values appears to be slowing.

For too many years our local home property values have continued to drop due to so many foreclosures and short sales. It’s left many people underwater on their mortgages and our local governments have faced extremely difficult budgeting processes, with cuts, cuts and more cuts.

Services have taken a big hit over the years and that’s felt by most citizens living in our communities and county. The going still is tough, with more budget cuts coming in the county, but we’ve seen an improvement.

It’s our hope that the decline in property values comes to a stop and starts to increase. Homeowners need this, as does just about everyone here trying to make a living. Perhaps our city and county workers can see pay increases in the not-too-distant future. It’s been a long time for many of them, and others have seen wages cut and furloughs take money out of their pockets.

Other parts of the state have rebounded faster than Highlands County, and some have been worse off. Slowly but surely it appears we are digging out and before long we can begin a slow and steady increase in values.

Areas like ours are much different than metro areas that seem to rebound quicker after a downturn. This was compounded by the real estate situation here, which drives so much of our economy. When houses aren’t being built or selling, it impacts everyone.

Avon Park has seen an increase in revenue from property tax, mainly due to annexation. More is coming, too. Sebring and Lake Placid still are not where they were, but progress is being made.

We hope this trend continues and that we can get on the right path to restoring services and getting people raises who have worked long and hard to serve all of us. Getting mortgage holders to at least tread water and even see an increase in values will make a big difference and remove a lot of stress.