Think Your Property Tax is High? See Who is Off the Charts in County-by-County View of U.S.

Think Your Property Tax is High? See Who is Off the Charts in County-by-County View of U.S. Photo (cc) by Dawn Endico

The average American homeowner pays $1,290 in property taxes for every $100,000 in home value, according to a report by real estate data firm RealtyTrac. That means taxes on a $250,000 home average $3,225.

But some homeowners pay a whole lot more.

A new report from RealtyTrac’s reveals effective property tax rates for single family homes in more than 1,000 counties (only 1,024 of U.S. counties had sufficient data to analyze, RealtyTrac says). Some parts of the country suffer from eye-popping real estate taxes, the report found.

Click for the RealtyTrac report.Click for the RealtyTrac report.

Folks who buy homes have an easy time calculating their future mortgage principal and interest costs. They might even hazard a decent guess at future repair expenses.

But property taxes are often the place where sensible real estate investments go to die, and cost certainty flies out the window. As in all real estate, location matters. Residents in some U.S. counties pay a tax rate that is more than three times the national average — and in one place, the rate is an astonishing seven times higher.

States with the highest effective property tax rates were New York (3.01 percent), Texas (2.18 percent), Illinois (2.15 percent), Connecticut (2.11 percent) and New Jersey (2.01 percent).

Those figures translate into huge tax bills. States with the highest average property taxes in dollars for single family homes were New York ($15,625), New Jersey ($8,108), New Hampshire ($5,795), Connecticut ($5,646), and Hawaii ($5,024).

Drilling down a little deeper, RealtyTrac founds counties with the highest tax rates and bills.

  1. Westchester County, New York (7.53 percent),
  2. Bexar County, Texas, in the San Antonio metro area (3.32 percent)
  3. De Kalb County in the Chicago metro area (3.27 percent)
  4. Passaic County, New Jersey, in the greater New York metro area (2.98 percent)
  5. Milwaukee County, Wisconsin (2.96 percent).

Counties with the highest average 2014 property taxes in dollars for single family homes were

  1. Westchester County, New York ($56,124)
  2. New York County, New York ($38,574)
  3. Nassau County, New York ($11,587)
  4. Marin County, California ($11,422)
  5. Bergen County, New Jersey ($11,159)

Average dollar amounts are skewed by high-value properties, of course, which is why tax rates are a better comparison tool.

Meanwhile, homeowners who lived in homes valued at less than $100,000 paid higher-than average tax rates. The average effective property tax rate was 1.68 percent for homes valued $50,000 or below and 1.40 percent on homes valued between $50,000 and $100,000, the report found.

It also found that consumers who are in the middle years of their mortgages — from years 5 to 15 — pay higher-than-average rates, perhaps because they purchased their homes during a time of inflated prices.

“State laws like Prop 13 in California give a property tax advantage to homeowners who have owned for a longer time, but the bell curve in effective property tax rates in the middle of the years-owned spectrum indicates that many who purchased during the housing bubble — or in the years leading up to the housing bubble — may be paying taxes based on a still-inflated valuation of their properties,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “These homeowners should consider appealing their property’s assessment if that is an option available to them in their county.”

Or the other side of the spectrum, the data showed that states with the lowest effective property tax rates were Alabama (0.40 percent), Wyoming (0.55 percent), Colorado (0.55 percent), West Virginia (0.60 percent) and Tennessee (0.64 percent).

How does your county stack up? Click here or on the map above to see the interactive map.

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