Dear Real Estate Websites: You Lied to Me

Westchester tax

I was wrong on the property taxes in Westchester. Oh, how I was so, so wrong.

I trusted Zillow. I trusted Realtor. I trusted Trulia. I was fooled. The taxes listed on all these real estate websites are completely and totally incomplete.

In every one of my previous posts, I listed what your property taxes would be if you purchased a home in one of these towns. If you didn’t already realize that I was absolutely wrong about the taxes in Westchester County, then I have some very, very bad news for you: for most of the towns I’ve researched, you need to add at least another thousand dollars to your monthly cost. That’s right. If I said $600/month, I meant $1,600/month. No, it wasn’t a typo. My mother’s guess is that there’s the base property tax (i.e. the $600/month) and then there’s the school and additional tax for the town you’re in (i.e. $1000/month.) All these real estate websites only calculate the regular taxes.

So when I said that a $600,000 house would cost you $3,100/month with taxes, mortgage, insurance combined, what I meant to say was: $4,100/month. Yeh, big difference.

But that’s in Westchester, rated #1 in cost of taxes compared to home value. In the country.

“What can I do?” you ask. Well, here are your other choices: buy a house at least an hour from Manhattan in Putnam County. Or Jersey. Or Connecticut. Or cross the Hudson into Rockland County. “So why would I, in a million years, opt to pay that kind of money in taxes when I could move to a different county and pay more like $800-900 in taxes? “Why”, you ask?

Why would you buy a house in Hastings-on-Hudson instead of some of the towns in these other counties? Because Hastings-on-Hudson is a 22-minute drive from the Upper West Side. Because it’s beautiful. Because the residents are (more or less) cosmopolitan, educated, intellectuals, Because it’s a 30-minute, $8, lovely train ride to Grand Central. Because the schools are top notch. Because it looks like a village, and not like a suburban strip mall. And because your children will poop diamonds.

(Well, the last part is an exaggeration.)


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