Mortgage rates may be a function of free markets, but real estate taxes are a function of government. And, depending on where you live, your annual real estate tax bill could be high, low, or practically non-existent. Compiling data from the 2009 American Community Survey, the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan educational organization in Washington D.C., published property taxes paid by owner-occupied households, county-by-county. The report shows huge disparity in annual property taxes by region, and by state. As a percentage of home valuation, Southeast homeowners tend to pay the fewest property taxes overall, while Northeast homeowners tend to pay the most. But statistics like that aren't especially helpful. What's more useful is to know how local real estate taxes stack up as compared to local, median household incomes. Not surprisingly, real estate taxes are least affordable to homeowners in the New York Metro area. The 10 U.S. counties with the highest tax-to-income ratios physically surround New York City's 5 boroughs. The areas with the lowest tax-to-income, by contrast, are predominantly in southern Louisiana. A sampling from the Tax Foundation list, here is how select counties rank in terms of taxes as a percentage of median income:
The U.S. national average is 3.0 percent. The complete, sortable list of U.S. counties is available at the Tax Foundation website. For specific tax information in your neighborhood or block, talk with a real estate agent.