What New Homeowners Should Know About Property Taxes

After buying a home, you'll have a lot of new ongoing expenses. One of them will be your property taxes. The property taxes are assessed by your county, and the way you pay them varies based on whether you own the property outright or if you're paying a mortgage. Here's what you need to know about paying property taxes as a first-time home buyer.

How to Pay Property Taxes

Some counties allow you to pay property taxes online. Others require you to remit payment by mail. If you owe a mortgage, your lender will receive the bill. They will roll it into your monthly mortgage payments, so you'll pay 1/12 of your annual property taxes on each monthly mortgage payment. The lender holds these payments in escrow and remits the payment to the county on your behalf.

When Property Taxes Are Due

Each county has its own property tax due dates. They're typically due around June 30 and December 31 each year. If your lender isn't collecting the payments, you should receive a bill in the snail mail a few weeks before the payment's due date.

How Much Your Property Taxes Will Be

The amount due on your property taxes varies based on where you live, the size and condition of your house, the size of your land parcel, its zoning and some other factors. Some places, such as Franklin County, OH, offer a homestead discount for people who only own one property and live in it. Some places offer discounted or grandfathered property tax rates to people ages 65 and older.

Where Property Tax Dollars Go

Each community uses its property tax dollars differently. In general, these tax dollars are used to fund local road improvements, mental health services, police and fire services, libraries, parks and public works improvements. In some places, property taxes are used to fund schools. This is the case in the state of Ohio.

Ways to Lower Your Property Tax Bill

If you receive a property tax bill that seems unreasonably high, your community should have a specified method of how to dispute it. In most cases, you must hire a private appraiser to evaluate your property and submit their findings. If the county agrees, your property assessment may be lowered. However, you still need to pay your tax bill on time. If your property value is lowered, the extra amount you paid will be credited to your account and used to reduce your next bill.

What Happens If You Don't Pay Your Property Taxes

If you don't pay your property taxes, you can incur fees and penalties. If they become delinquent, the county sheriff's office can put a lien on your property. Your property can be seized after a specified period of time if the taxes aren't paid. If your payments are put into escrow by the lender, and the lender doesn't pay, you have the right to legal recourse against the lender.


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