Metro Augusta area homeowners, on average, have lower property tax burdens than the average American. But Richmond County residents are right on the cusp.
That’s according to California-based ATTOM Data Solutions’ recently released analysis of more than 84 million U.S. single family homes.
The metro area’s effective property tax rate was 0.74 percent when data for Aiken, Columbia and Richmond counties – the three most-populous metro area counties – were combined and averaged. That comes in below the 1.15 national average for all U.S. homeowners.
But when the counties are looked at individually, Richmond County’s rate mirrors the 1.15 percent national average, while Aiken County’s is 0.35 percent and Columbia County’s is 0.94 percent.
Though it may seem odd the area’s least-dynamic real estate market has the highest effective property tax rate, the scenario is a “common theme” nationwide, said Daren Blomquist, ATTOM’s senior vice president.
Assessors in faster growing areas, such as Columbia and Aiken counties, are more likely to err on undervaluing a property than in Richmond County, where prices are not as fluid, he said.
“So basically, the tax assessor is able to be more current with the market values,” he said. “In some of the faster-appreciating, higher priced markets, the tax estimate tends to be low and conservative. It’s almost a penalty for areas that have lower value and lower appreciation.”
Blomquist said the opposite is true in metro areas with fast-growing urban cores, such as Denver, where assessments in the central city lag behind rapid price appreciations.
The Irvine, Calif.-based firm determined effective tax rates by comparing single family home tax data nationwide to estimated market values using an “automated valuation model.”
The company said total tax collections for single family homes in 2016 totaled $277.7 billion, with an average bill of $3,296 per home and an effective tax rate of 1.15 percent.
ATTOM releases the report to highlight the effect property taxes have on real estate sales.
“This issue affects the affordability of housing, as property taxes do affect the ratios for potential buyers,” the company said in a statement. “By continually raising property taxes to support schools, as well as other infrastructure in lieu of other funding sources such as sales tax – which generates revenues from property owners as well as non-property owners – property taxes limit a buyer’s ability to purchase as well as the property’s ability to appreciate in value.”
Neither Georgia nor South Carolina were among the top 10 states with the highest effective property tax rates: New Jersey, 2.31 percent; Illinois, 2.13 percent; Texas, 2.06 percent; New Hampshire, 2.03 percent; Vermont, 2.02 percent; Connecticut, 2 percent; Pennsylvania, 1.89 percent; New York, 1.88 percent; Ohio, 1.68 percent; and Rhode Island, 1.64 percent.
Among the 217 metropolitan statistical areas with populations greater than 200,000, the following had the highest effective property tax rates: Binghamton, N.Y., 3.10 percent; Rochester, N.Y. 2.99 percent; Rockford, Ill., 2.96 percent; Atlantic City, N.J. 2.77 percent; and Syracuse, N.Y. 2.67 percent.
“Everybody feels like their property taxes are too high – that’s a common feeling,” said Blomquist. “But the high-level takeaway to me is when you look at the number in the Augusta metro area, it’s at or below the national average in terms of tax rates.”
Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or firstname.lastname@example.org