Single-family home property taxes rose 3% in 2017: Attom

Average homeowner paid $3,400 in property taxes last year, but that amount varies wildly from state to state depending on housing costs and taxes levied

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Owners of single-family homes in the U.S. paid an average of nearly $3,400 in property taxes in 2017, an increase of 3 percent over 2016, but if you are living in — or moving to — the New York City region, you could be paying nearly three times that or more, according to research by Attom Data Solutions, an Irvine, California, firm that assembles information on residential and commercial real estate.

On a per capita basis, Attom reports that the effective tax rate last year was 1.17 percent, up from 1.15 percent in 2016, or an average of $3,296 per house.

The greater New York metropolitan area has the highest property taxes in the land, according to the study. Of the 1,414 counties in the United States with at least 10,000 single-family houses, Westchester County, New York, residents pay the highest real estate tax, an average of $17,179, Attom found.

Rockland County, New York, residents paid an average of $12,924, while those in Essex County, New Jersey, paid $11,878 on average; homeowners in Bergen County, New Jersey, paid $11,585; and owners in Nassau County, New York, paid $11,415 on average.

Not every state has an income tax, but every one of the country’s 3,142 counties collects property taxes. So do some towns and municipalities. All told, these jurisdictions collected $293.4 billion from the owners of more than 86 million single-family houses last year, according to Attom’s report.

Last year’s take was up 6 percent from the $277.7 billion collected the year before.

Property taxes must be paid annually by anyone who owns a home or a commercial property. The money collected is used to cover the cost of any number of budget items, but mostly for schools. Also in the mix is road construction and maintenance, salaries for local government staff such as cops and firefighters, parks, recreation centers and programs, traffic and street lights and public transportation.

But residents in New Jersey, Illinois, Vermont, Texas and New Hampshire all paid higher rates than the average — 2.28 percent in New Jersey, 2.22 percent in Illinois, 2.19 percent in Vermont, 2.15 percent in Texas and 2.06 percent in New Hampshire.

Among the 217 metro areas with a population of at least 200,000, though, Attom found that real estate taxes of residents in several smaller locations paid an even high effective rate. In Scranton, Pennsylvania, for example, homeowners paid 3.93 percent, whiles those in Binghamton, New York, paid 3.14 percent and people in Rockford, Illinois, paid 3.03 percent.

To produce these figures, Attom analysts looked at data collected from county tax assessors nationwide at the state, metro and county levels as well as the market values of single-family houses as computed by automated valuation models.

Here are some of the report’s other more interesting findings:

  • Nearly three of out every five metro areas — 58 percent — posted an increase in their average property taxes last year. Dallas led the pack with an 11 percent tax hike, while Houston was close behind with a 10 percent jump. Other big step-ups were recorded in Los Angeles, 7 percent; San Francisco and Seattle, 6 percent, and Boston, Miami and Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif., 5 percent.
  • The lowest property tax rate was in Hawaii, at 0.34 percent, followed in ascending order by Alabama, 0.49 percent; Colorado, 0.51 percent; Tennessee, 0.56 percent, and West Virginia, 0.57 percent.
  • On a metropolitan basis, the lowest of the 217 areas studied were Honolulu, 0.33 percent; Montgomery, Alabama, 0.36 percent; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 0.41 percent; Colorado Springs, 0.42 percent, and Greeley, Colorado, 0.45 percent.
  • For those who want to introduce politics into the mix, Attom found that the average tariff on houses in the 327 so-called “blue” counties carried by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential election was $4,528 last year. That’s nearly twice the average of $2,462 paid on houses in the 1,087 “red” counties won by Donald Trump. But there was not as big a difference in the effective rates between red and blue counties — 1.20 percent in the blue places vs. 1.15 percent in the red jurisdictions. Attom explained the slim difference this way: Average home values were higher in the blue counties than the red, $377,142 vs. 210,753.

The full report can be found here.

Lew Sichelman’s weekly column, “The Housing Scene,” is syndicated to newspapers throughout the country.

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