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Real Estate for Beginners: Residential Property Taxes


Whenever you own a piece of land, you will be taxed for it. Whether it is commercial property or residential property, there is still a tax to pay, whether it is for a village, town, city, county, or state. Most residential private property taxes are handled on the local level, going no higher than the county. Depending on the nature of the business, it may be handled by a variety of entities, including state and federal agencies. Each specific area and state has its own way of levying property taxes.

This article is intended as real estate for beginners and will focus on property taxes as they relate to residential private property. Your Credit Union financial advisor can also provide a good deal of valuable information; call today to schedule your free consultation.

How property taxes are used. Each locale uses the revenue earned from property taxes for different purposes. It can be anything from road repairs and utility upkeep to firefighter salaries and emergency response. Most areas, however, use the money received from property taxes for school districts. Taxes are levied and then distributed to schools in a district according to the amount of money received from property taxes. This often puts homeowners in a bind, as most of them want quality education for children, but are reluctant to vote to pass measures that will result in a property tax increase.

How property taxes are determined. Before buying a home, it is important for real estate beginners to understand how the amount you pay in property taxes is decided upon. Everyone pays a different amount, depending upon how much a home is worth. The tax rate for an area is the same throughout that area, but due to varying home values, the property tax you pay may be a little higher or lower than your neighbors.

If the property tax rate in your area is 9 percent, and your home is assessed at 250,000 dollars, your yearly property tax would be 22,500 dollars. If your neighbor's home were only assessed at 235,000 dollars, he or she would pay 21,150 dollars in taxes per year. Many areas have specified periods of time required for a new assessment. Most places require a new assessment every five to seven years. This means that your taxes could go up or down as your property value changes.

What goes into a property assessment? There are some guidelines assessors use when determining the value of your home. By being acquainted with these, you will be more likely to understand why your home has been given a certain value. Here are the most common benchmarks taken into consideration when determining a home's value.

? Sale price of similar properties in the area: the assessor will know how much other homes in your immediate area are selling for, and will assess your house to reflect the value of the neighborhood.

? Property's historical value: records of the property's value through the years will help the assessor determine whether the home's value keeps with current trends, and whether the home increases in value over time as a general rule.

? Cost of replacing the property: it is possible to determine how much the materials to replace the property, or to add improvements to increase value, would cost. This can figure into the value of the property.

? Potential value of the property if it is used to make money: many people use their property as income through rental or sale, and this value can be used to help the assessor decide how much he or she should value your property for.

Disputing an assessment. Because home values are subjective, it is possible to dispute a value. You can speak with neighbors and realtors to discover what homes in the area are valued at. Recent home buyers and sellers can give you a good idea of what others are paying in property taxes. Visit your tax board or the local tax assessment office to find out what the procedures are for dispute an assessment you feel is unfair.

Paying your property taxes. As a real estate beginner, you want to be sure that you are paying the taxes on your property. There are a number of ways to do this, including paying to the tax commission quarterly or yearly. However, the simplest way to pay your taxes is to have them integrated into your home loan. They can be added to your monthly mortgage payment, making it a relatively hassle-free way to make sure everything is taken care of.

With a little savvy, even a real estate beginner can have a good handle on what it takes to get a fair value assessment and know the ins and outs of paying property taxes.

Nicole Soltau is the President and Founder of CreditUnionRate.com.
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