These Are the Best Counties for Property Taxes—by Region

by | BiggerPockets.com

Property taxes can make or break a home purchase. Consider certain regions of the Northeast where property taxes are notoriously high—like Hunterdon County, New Jersey (which has the third-highest property taxes in the country), where I grew up. When we sold our family home (assessed at $548,700) in 2009, our property taxes were an outrageous $15,620. Today I live in a home of similar value in Jefferson County, Colorado, where I pay less than $3,000 a year in property taxes.

Between 2011 and 2015, according to analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau, the median annual property tax bill in the U.S. was around $2,150. But this increased to $10,000 a year or more in some areas of the northeast (including New Jersey) during that time period.

This week, information company RewardExpert released its ranking of the Best U.S. Counties for Property Taxes — in hopes of helping prospective homebuyers catch a break on their next property purchase. “Buying a home is a big move and is often a family’s biggest financial investment,” said RewardExpert co-founder and CEO Roman Shteyn in a press release. “It can seem unfair to continue paying for a house that has already been bought and paid for, so choosing the right place to invest can help mitigate long-term expenses.”

The report identifies the top five counties in the six major geographical regions of the country: northeast, south atlantic, south central, midwest, mountain west, and pacific west. The full report can be viewed here, but we’ll look at the top counties in each region in this post.

Related: Property Taxes – Definition and Their Role in Real Estate Investing

Northeast

Sussex County, Delaware

This coastal county situated on the Delmarva Peninsula takes first place in the region, thanks to its assessment ratio: the county only levies taxes on 50 percent of a property’s market value, reducing its already low .75 percent property tax to an effective .37 percent rate.
Average annual tax bill in Sussex County: $1,228

South Atlantic

Darlington County, South Carolina

South Carolina assess property at full market value, but the first $100,000 of a home’s assessed value is exempt. The median property value in this county (northwest of Myrtle Beach) is $139,00, which results in a tax bill based only on $39,000.
Average annual tax bill in Darlington County: $146

South Central

Crawford County, Arkansas

The south central region is dominated by counties in Arkansas and New Mexico — due to low property assessments there. In the Ozarks’ Crawford County, property tax bills amount to just over one-tenth of a percent of the average home value.
Average annual tax bill in Crawford County: $192

Related: 7 Common Myths About Rental Property Taxation—Dispelled

Midwest

Grant County, Indiana

Grant County homes have a median sale price of $75,945, and tax bills here are the lowest in the country.
Average annual tax bill in Grant County: $24.50

Mountain West

Pueblo County, Colorado

Colorado sweeps the region for low property taxes. Here, residential property is assessed at a very low 7.96 percent of fair market value. Pueblo County offers modest property values (an average home sells for $205,000) and exceptionally affordable yearly tax bills.
Average annual tax bill in Pueblo County: $371

Pacific West

Klamath County, Oregon

Beautiful Klamath County is home to some of the most affordable real estate in the region (the median sale price is $194,000). The county charges a reasonable 1.23 percent tax rate, and Oregon has no property transfer tax.
Average annual tax bill in Klamath County: $2,378

For more on nationwide property tax burdens, check out this interactive map!

What do you think about the drastic tax differences by region?

Share with us below!

About Author

Lindsay Tucker

Lindsay Tucker is a writer, editor, and real estate junkie in Denver, Colorado. Check out more of her work at lindsaytucker.com.

10 Comments

  1. Kevin miller

    FYI applicable to this topic-
    I have a 500k house in Rosarito, Baja, mx and pay $300 annually for property taxes. I have two strip centers in TJ and pay about the same, cap rates are 17-20 because of such awesome qualities… lemme know if you wanna throw down in the wild Wild West:) cab dirt bike everywhere too:):)

  2. Christopher Smith

    Despite paying relatively high taxes on my California properties, by acquiring them at the very depth of the housing crises at fire sale prices my property tax basis will remain low under prop 13. Without that protection, I’d probably be paying about 2x what I currently pay at current FMV eliminating 1/3 to 1/2 of my total current cash flow.

  3. Ames Foley

    I am not sure how the calculations were done but when a home in St. Louis County, MO with a 33% higher value that pays just over 1/2 of what I pay in property tax in St. Clair County, IL. there is no way I believe this report. Someone needs to explain what I am missing.

  4. Cliff T.

    This is good information for people buying a primary residence, NOT for investors. It can be especially misleading if someone were to start investing in Darlington, SC after reading this article since this article fails to mention that in SC investors pay a HIGHER property tax rate than primary residence owners. Just my 2 cents… If anyone has a more comprehensive article on this subject matter as it pertains to investors, please post!

    • Erik S.

      Came here to say this.

      I understand it is not geared towards investors but since it is a website for investors, this is important to mention….SC does not exclude the first 100K for investors. The first $100,000 in fair market value of a primary residence can be exempt from school operating taxes. And non-owner-occupied homes are assessed at 6% of the assessed value, while owner-occupied are at 4%.

      Example: Tax millage rate .2, Assessed value 100,000

      An investor, non-owner occupied tax will be 100,000*.06=$6000 tax basis
      $6000*.2= $1200 taxes yearly

      A homeowner (occupied) tax will be 100,000*.04=$4000 tax basis
      $4000*.2= $800 taxes yearly

      In this case, the investor pays $400 more per year.

      • Cliff T.

        Yes! Thanks for laying out the example!

        I think it may not be *exactly* right, though. At least in my county, the millage rate also changes depending on whether it is owner occupied or not. So you not only get a higher percent, but also a higher millage rate: which results in crazy property taxes for investors!

        Following are examples of how to estimate taxes:
        (A) All properties that qualify for the 4% owner occupied/legal
        residence rate. Multiply the appraised value by 4% to
        determine the assessment. Then multiply the assessment by the
        millage rate for total taxes.
        Example: $100,000 property in the City of Rock Hill
        $100,000 x 4% x 0.2142 = $856.80

        (B) All other properties (except manufacturing). Multiply the
        appraised value by 6% to determine the assessment. Then
        multiply the assessment by the millage rate for total taxes.
        Example: $100,000 property in the City of Rock Hill
        $100,000 x 6% x 0.3916 = $2,349.60

        Here are the 2017 rates: https://www.yorkcountygov.com/DocumentCenter/View/2387/2017-Millage-Rate-PDF

        For investors in SC, it seems to be worth while to own a primary in SC, but better to own rentals in NC. That’s my take. If I’m misinterpreting something, PLEASE let me know the error of my ways! Thanks 🙂

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