Good News: When It Comes to Property Taxes, Bay Area in the Middle of the Pack

Home prices in the Bay Area may be flying high, but here’s a data point where, surprisingly, local owners are solidly in the middle of the pack: property taxes.Stack of hundred dollar bills

Research by the real estate website Zillow found the highest property-tax rate in the nation in upstate New York: 3.76 percent in Allegany County. In second place was Milwaukee County, Wis., with a 3.68 percent take rate.

The lowest tax rate was in Caroline County, Va., at 0.17 percent, with a half-dozen more hovering near 0.2 percent.

In the Bay Area, meanwhile, Zillow said property-tax rates range from 0.7 percent in San Francisco and San Mateo counties to 1.2 percent in Contra Costa County.

To be sure, Bay Area homeowners pay hefty property taxes, but that’s mostly because of the high prices those homes command.

Property taxes paid in the Bay Area averaged $5,358 in 2012, almost double the national average of $2,823. But the county with the highest average tax paid — Marin County, at $8,434 — was no match for Westchester County, N.Y., just north of New York City, where the average tax bill in 2012 was $14,829. Homeowners in at least four other East Coast counties paid average tax bills north of $11,000.

Property taxes are the second biggest cost of home ownership, after mortgage payments. And in this instance, it’s just fine that Bay Area homes and homeowners don’t place at the top of the list.

Curious about the average property taxes paid in your county compared with others in the Bay Area? The following numbers are from 2012, followed by each county’s property tax rate, according to Zillow:

(Image: Flickr/Rayana)

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