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How accurate are the property tax estimates on listings?

First time home buyer. I don't fully understand property taxes. On most listings I see "property taxes" and "tax assessment" listed, but then on the monthly payment calculator at the bottom, "taxes" always adds up to a totally different amount. When I look at a listing, how do I accurately figure the cost of property taxes?
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March 20 2012 - US
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Answers (6)

Zillow is a great starting point to gather information and data using a wide variety of tools and services.  There are millions of listings, rentals, MLS and syndicated feeds, mortgage tools and much more.

For property taxes though, you'd need to contact the local property tax assessor, they can provide you with tax information, special assessments etc. In many areas of the country, this is public record information, in other parts it can be a bit more challenging to access.
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March 21 2012
Profile picture for wetdawgs
In most cases, the property tax information in the tax table on the home details page is pretty accurate, as is the tax assessed value  (none of which were "stolen" from the assessor's office.)    I have no idea how the Zillow calculates the tax/insurance amounts, you are right, it doesn't add up. 

While you didn't ask about Zestimates, Zillow does address their accuracy for Zestimates here.    If you chose to work with agents for similar numbers in their CMAs, ask them for the statistics on their own accuracy with CMAs so you can compare apples to apples.

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March 20 2012
First of all, as a first time buyer, if you are using Zillow you are wasting your time.

Zillow is not a licensed real estate broker.  Zillow does not have access to any MLS data.  Mortgage loan appraisers and local municipality tax assessors do not use Zillow "zestimates" for home values. 

Zillow steals public data from tax assessor websites, applies an algorithm to that number, to come up with a zestimate.  Zillow zestimates are highly inaccurate and more and more real estate professionals as well as major MLS systems are refusing to allow their listings to appear on Zillow for this reason.

Zillow only exists to sell advertising on it's website.  They admit themselves they are a media site that exists to get traffic, not a real estate website.

You should contact a reputable local Realtor who can guide you through the process.
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March 20 2012
First of all, neither Zillow nor the tax assessor (in most cases never) have ever been to the subject property to confirm their market value.
Therefore neither of the values indicated by these methods determines the market value.
If the For Sale Price or the Zestimate differ from the assessed tax value, their calculations will result in different amounts of the estimated tax.
If the price that is finally agreed to by the buyer and the seller (Fair Market Value or Sold price) is different than the assessed tax value, the taxes will adjust in the next round of assessments. In most cases the assessed value is never the market value of the home so, unless you want to ask the county auditor directly, you will only be getting estimates of the tax burden on the property.
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March 20 2012
The amount listed under property taxes and tax assessment is pulled from the county's information. So in general it is the correct amount the homeowner is currently (and in the past) paying.

The amount in the mortgage calcualtors is a percentage of the purchase price used in the calculations.

To make it even more confusing and difficult to plan for the taxes on a future purchase, they can change dramatically after you purchase. Especially if you are paying dramatically more than the home is currently assessed for.
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March 20 2012

Go to the tax assessors website where the property is located and see if you can pull the tax bill. 

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March 20 2012
 
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