What is the hardest part of selling real estate in Westchester County? Well, if it is a home buyer trying to decide where to buy a house, the answer is simple:
The Property taxes in Westchester County are some of the highest in the country.
Property taxes in some areas, like Chappaqua, Briarcliff Manor, Armonk and Scarsdale, that are home to some of the consistently highest ranked Westchester School Districts, can easily be north of $25,000 per $1,000,0000 of property value.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to ruin your appetite. But there are three MAJOR upsides; Yes, you do get something significant for your tax dollar.
1) Some of the highest ranked school districts in the country
2) Very easy and manageable commutes to Manhattan
3) Rolling hills, beautiful architecture and a housing stock that offers styles and substance for every budget
That said, it is import to make sure that your current home or future home is taxed properly.
One aside…don’t ever trust Zillow, Trulia or other sites for accurate tax information. They are almost always either incorrect or provide dated information. For a new home, your realtor should do two things for you
1) Check the MLS for the listed taxes
2) Go to the town and pull a current tax bill. I do this for all of my clients.
But how do you know if your property is taxed accurately?
Simple. Step one is that any individual or realtor can go to the local town hall for a subject property and pull the tax bill. That tax bill will note the FMV, or current fair market value as estimated by the town’s tax assessor. If the fair market value is several percentage points higher than a recent purchase price or appraisal, you are likely being overtaxed.
So what should you do?
Grieve the taxes!!! This is your right as a property owner. A tax grievance can either be filed by a homeowner directly with varying amounts of paperwork depending on the town or there are several services who are experts at filing on the homeowner’s behalf. These firms generally take a fee of one-third of the tax savings in the first year. Either way…it is money saved.
One final note. There are two things to do if you are selling or plan on selling your home.
1) Choose a realtor who works for low commission and actually attends all showings (most realtors don’t) AND
2) Pull your FMV and determine if you are being overtaxed. Why? Because every dollar counts and tax-sensitive buyers are looking to save every way they can.