Category Archives: Ask Betsy

Q. I’m looking to buy a home and would like to estimate property taxes. Betsy, can you help me?

A. Sure can. Buyers often assume their taxes will be similar to the current owner’s taxes. Nothing could be further from the truth. When a house sells, the Alachua County property appraiser recomputes taxes. To get a close estimate of what your taxes will be, multiple the market value of the house (found at by searching for the address of the home or call me) by .025 (the average millage rate for Alachua County). From that number, subtract $1,000 for homestead exemption if this is your primary residence. The result will be a close approximation of what your taxes will be.

Q. With all due respect, why should I pay the high fees a real estate agent charges?

A. It’s ironic that, as consumers, we think nothing of tipping a waiter 10-15% for bad service for a meal we’ve just consumed, but question a real estate broker who charges say, 6%, for its professional services to buy a house (which is not an expense like food but an asset…in fact, the largest asset that most people own – an asset that can increase in value and/or provide a steady stream of income, unlike the meal you just consumed). The negotiating skills of a good Realtor alone can more that pay for the
professional fees charged. Their access to reliable yet very competitively priced professionals such as surveyors, lenders, inspectors and handymen/women, etc. will save additional time and money. As a seller, their ability to market your home aggressively in arenas you may not have considered will save
you time on the market and therefore carrying costs of holding your house. To maximize your investment, look for a Realtor who knows your market and who is in the market themselves. If “now is the time to buy,” make sure your Realtor is buying.

Q. I heard Pepine Realty is hosting an in-person real estate school. Can you tell me how I can sign up?

A. Yes we are hosting in-person real estate classes in December. This is the first step to get your Florida real estate license. A Florida real estate license (sales associate) is a required class by the state of Florida. It is a 63-hour class. This class will prepare you to take your state exam to get your Florida real estate license. A licensed sales associate takes part in the listing and selling of residential, commercial, and industrial property, land, business opportunities, and timeshares. This class includes the textbook. Taught by a licensed Florida real estate instructor. The classes are December 9th-13th and 16th-17th, 8:00am – 5:00pm at Pepine Realty. To sign up please visit