Don't Buy That Home Until You've Researched Property Taxes in the Area

Posted on: 20 October 2016

When you buy a home, you don't just need to pay the mortgage each month. You also need to contribute to your property-tax bill. Sadly, many homeowners overlook the idea of property taxes when they are shopping for homes. This can get them in trouble later when costs are higher than expected. To ensure you don't suffer this same fate, follow these tips when you are looking at real estate.

Ask for specific property-tax amounts on any homes you look at.

Don't settle for just percentages. Hearing that property taxes are 15%, for example, seems rather ambiguous. Hearing that one home has a property tax bill of $3,000 per year or $250 a month allows you to get a more realistic idea of what the tax bills will be. Plus, you can compare the property-tax costs of various properties side by side, helping you make your decision as to which properties are best suited to your budget.

Find out what is included in property taxes.

Different cities and towns include different services in property taxes. For example, in some areas, your property taxes go toward supporting garbage collection, leaf pickup, and sewer maintenance. In other areas, you may need to pay additional fees for some of these services. Knowing what's included in each town will help you more accurately compare costs for homes in different towns.  

Consider looking at less expensive homes if you live in a high-tax area.

Property tax rates vary radically. If the rates are high in the area in which you're looking for a home, don't get discouraged. You may just need to look at homes that cost a little less. Not only will this lower your mortgage payment so you have more money left over each month to pay for property taxes, but your tax bills will also be lower on a less expensive home.

Pay attention to when the home was last assessed.

Some cities only assess homes for tax rates every few years. If it has been a few years since the property was assessed, be aware that your taxes might rise if, when the home is assessed again, its assessed value increases. Ask your realtor when a property was last assessed, and if it has been a while, look deeper into the records to find out what the home's assessed value was the last time it was assessed. Your realtor can help you determine, based on the home's current condition, whether the taxes are likely to go up once the property is assessed again.

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