While high housing prices and rising mortgage rates seem to dominate the headlines, there’s another associated cost that many of us forget: property taxes. Indeed, property taxes are based on where you live and the value of the property, so higher and rising real estate values can equate to higher property taxes, explains real estate attorney Michael Romer of Romer Debbas. “Property taxes usually change each year, and they could go up or down based on whether the value of a person’s property increased or decreased,” says Jacob Channel, senior economic analyst at LendingTree. And sometimes annual property tax bills add up to several thousands of dollars, or more, per year. (See the lowest mortgage rates you might qualify for here.)
What’s more, real estate taxes are on the rise. Real estate data firm ATTOM reveals that $328 billion in property taxes were levied on single-family homes in 2021, up 1.6% in the year prior. “It’s hardly a surprise that property taxes increased in 2021, a year when home prices across the country rose by 16%,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence at ATTOM, in a statement. “In fact, the real surprise is that the tax increases weren’t higher, which suggests that tax assessments are lagging behind rising property values, and will likely continue to go up in 2022.”
But some cities still offer inexpensive property taxes. Montgomery, where the median home value is only about $127,000, takes the prize for the metro area with the lowest average property taxes, averaging just $609 per year, according to ATTOM, which analyzed roughly 220 metro areas. (See the lowest mortgage rates you might qualify for here.)
8 metro areas with the lowest average property taxes in 2021
|Montgomery, AL: $609|
|Tuscaloosa, AL: $823|
|Houma-Thibodaux, LA: $881|
|Mobile, AL: $885|
|Lake Charles, LA: $962|
|Charleston, WV: $969|
|Florence, SC: $984|
|Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH: $984|
That said, the data reveals that property taxes increased faster than the national average in 74% of markets, with Nashville having the largest increase in property taxes, up 27% from the year prior.
How much you pay in property taxes varies significantly depending on your home’s location and value. Among the more than 1,400 U.S. counties with at least 10,000 single-family homes, 16 had an average single-family-home tax of more than $10,000, including 12 in the New York City metro area, according to data from ATTOM. The top five were Kings County (Brooklyn), NY ($13,734); Marin County, CA (outside San Francisco) ($13,719); Westchester County, NY ($13,674); Essex County, NJ ($13,116) and Nassau County, NY ($13,095). Another analysis of metro areas by LendingTree also shows that New York’s property taxes are the highest in the nation.
In some places, like Manhattan, if you pay $3,000,000 for a home, you can expect to pay about $57,000 annually in property taxes, according to SmartAsset’s property tax calculator. On the same purchase price in San Francisco, property taxes would equal about $19,000, and in San Jose, California, a $3 million home would yield property taxes that cost about $22,000 per year.
Property taxes can add up, big time, and impact you for decades to come. “When deciding to buy a home, one must determine that they can afford to buy the home and afford to carry the home, which includes payment of real estate taxes. Always determine what the cost of homeownership is before purchasing the home,” says Romer.
If you’re someone who pays an astronomical amount in property taxes, there are potential avenues available to help relieve some of the burden. Lending Tree’s Channel says if you feel overburdened by property taxes, you can challenge your assessment. “While this doesn’t guarantee that your bill will go down, it can help shed some light on why the government is saying you owe what you do. And in the best-case scenario, you could end up paying less in taxes,” notes Channel. (See the lowest mortgage rates you might qualify for here.)