Property taxes… and the info on the assessor’s website

I just paid my property taxes this morning. I’ve chosen not to escrow my taxes and insurance with my mortgage payment, so that I can save the money up in a bank account through the year, and earn interest on it. (5% in an Emigrant account is nothing to sneeze at). So that means that twice a year I need to log into the county assessor’s website and send a payment via e-check (of course, if I planned ahead, I could also snail-mail it). They do keep going up, though. I’ve chosen not to raise the rent on my tenants if they signed another year lease, so the increased property tax bill just cuts into my profits. At least, though, the money that I pay in property taxes is deductible (on my 1040 for my personal half, on my schedule E for my rental unit).

While I was on the assessor’s website, though, I took the time to look up the duplex that’s currently for sale next door, and check to see that his property taxes were similar to mine (considering buying it). The taxes are slightly higher, but that’s simply due to it not being homesteaded. What was interesting, though, was that the owner had actually bought it the February BEFORE I bought my duplex. It was also for sale when I bought my duplex. He bought the duplex for about $40,000 less than what it’s currently listed for (and about $55,000 less than what it was listed for when I bought my duplex).

This particular landlord has let the duplex go empty more often than it’s been full, and this is the second time he’s had it up for sale. He must have been trying to flip it (although he didn’t actually do any improvements to the inside, as far as I can see). Buy it, hold it for a year, resell it at a profit. If you can sell it for $50,000 more than you bought it for, you can let it go empty for a year and still turn a profit of about $30,000.

The assessor’s website is full of many secrets! I’ve (nosily) looked up what friends, bosses, neighbors and colleagues have paid for their houses, and how much they pay in property taxes (even caught an old boss with unpaid property taxes once). Knowing now what I know about the purchase price of the duplex next door gives me a good idea of what his bottom selling price might be…

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