Most people would quickly say “yes!” Unfortunately, taxes are the cost of a civilized society, but are they in-line with what you get?
Recently, I worked with a client wishing to move into Birmingham. We looked at many homes and once we found a home that met their requirements, we took a closer look at all the costs. When I calculated the probable property taxes, the number was higher than he expected. He stated “I always heard the taxes in Birmingham were high!” However, he was surprised when I showed him that his current town’s tax rate was significantly higher than that of Birmingham. In fact, looking at Birmingham’s tax rate versus other Oakland County cities – it’s in the middle of the pack. For 2014, the most recent year that complete information is available from the state, the average of the 31 cities residing in Oakland County was about 44 mils or 4.4% of the Taxable Value (TV). The TV is the lesser of your State Equalized Value (1/2 or less of your Assessed Value) or your Capped Value.
But taxes are only part of the equation. You must also ask: what are you getting for your home buying dollar and what services/amenities are you receiving from the municipality? In the case of Birmingham you are likely to get a smaller house on a smaller lot but that is likely to appreciate faster than many other Oakland County cities. However, you are also likely to get more in services and amenities. The city of Birmingham has 22 parks (approximately 7.5% of the city), library, 2 golf courses, ice arena, senior center, a downtown, miles of sidewalks, dozens of restaurants, many annual events and trash/leaf pickup are among the benefits of being a resident. Neighboring Bloomfield Hills has far fewer amenities and services, but it’s property taxes are around 10% lower than Birmingham (holding the school district constant). While not a city, thus more difficult to directly compare, Bloomfield Township with a library, senior center, and a growing amount of sidewalks falls somewhere in between the cities of Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills on both services/amenities and tax rate.
So, are your taxes too high? Maybe, if you don’t feel you are getting enough for your money. Fortunately, our area has a wide range of municipal amenities/services being offered at a variety of price tags (property taxes). Taking all these factors into consideration will allow you find the best combination for your situation.