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Home expansion and your property taxes...

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605

The new tax laws have put home owners in New York state into a state of near panic. Many who live in low tax states can not fatham how much this impacts the markets of around 10 high-tax states where the services are great, our schools are they envy of much of the country, but the tax bite is high. 

What do changes in the tax code mean in Westchester NY?

Here in Westchester, the cap on SALT (state and local taxes) deductions is a real problem.  Home owners in New York rely on itemization to make their tax burdens bearable. However, for most people in Westchester, the property tax bite usualy well exceeds the $10,000 cap that has been placed on the SALT deduction. This also means that their entire state tax bite is no longer deductable at all

Yes, the marginal tax rates have been adjusted, but itemizers have also lost the personal exemption, which, if you have a couple of children, is a very large deduction. Itemizers don't get a larger standard dedcution to offset that loss. The burning question for each homeowner is whether the lower marginal rates will offset the loss of these other deductions.  The answer is that some living in co-ops and condos might break even. A few, who own studios or small 1 BR units, may even do a bit better. But almost anyone in a single -family home is going to have a tax increase.

It still won't make renting any better. Rents will go up the minute your landlord gets his tax bill. 

Bottom line: this is going to hurt people across the board in NY. There is no way around it. 

What about home improvements?

Having just read an excellent article by Anita Clark on home expansion projects, I had to take a moment to think about what home expansion now implies for a homeowner's tax burden. It's not a trivial issue. This is particularly true of homes that expand their living space. Adding on a second floor to a ranch house was a no-brainer before the new tax reform. Now, I'm not so sure. 

I was took a look at recent sales in White Plains, NY and looked at the differences in taxes. Now granted, the property tax system is more than a bit Byzantine. Nothing is neat and tidy.  A home with an old kitchen and bath will be taxed less than one with full renovations. There are other factors like neighborhoods, property size, decks, bonus rooms and other amenities. 

However, when I looked at homes between 2000-3000 sf, the median taxes in the median price range were about $14,400.  When you went to 3000-4000 sf that rate went up to $19,800. OUCH! 

You can note that even in the 2000-3000 sf range the property taxes alone exceeded ths SALT cap by over $4000. But that extra $5k on the tax bill of those with larger homes has got to hurt a whole lot more when you can't deduct any of it. 

For those in lower tax states whose jaws are dropping at the cost of living, White Plains happens to be known for its LOW property taxes. So just imagine what this is like in surrounding towns. They are much higher elsewhere in the county. 

Renovating a home to make better use of exisiting space might be a plan...

This might indeed be the best way to go. We are living in an area where less is more. Homeowners who max out the best possible use of their existing space might actually get top dollar over those who simply expand their footprint. We have been seeing a trend in this direction for a while, and for people in higher tax areas, the new mantra may be "less is more". 

Further Reading: 

Tax reform and home ownership in high-tax states

Home additions you should consider

Living large in less space

Learn these 4 secrets to boost your home's value


Comments (8)

Golden1 Agents
San Mateo, CA

Thanks for sharing.

Jan 12, 2018 04:16 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Ruthmarie, soon as the new reform law was divulged, I worried about the East Coast with such high taxes.    Ours are not so high.

Jan 30, 2018 07:14 AM
Ruthmarie Hicks

Yes, this is an issue. The only thing that helps is that many people are dependent on the NYTristate area for their employment. 

CT and NJ generally have lower taxes, BUT CT is having a lot of trouble keeping businesses in state. The money has to come from somewhere so, the propety taxes were in for a big hike. NY has a similar shortfall, but it has NYC and about 3.5X the number of residents with which to spread the pain. NJ is better for people who commute to downtown Manhattan. Westchester/Long Island, is best for a midtown commute. 

People will continue to live the tristate area. The question is which areas, which towns "win". 

Meanwhile, within Westchester there is a patchwork quilt of property tax rates. In this case, the areas that were winning before the new tax plan will probably be the big losers.

A lot of the towns with lower taxes and lower property values remained fairly unloved by home buyers  during most of the recovery.  I do think that this will help these areas come into their own.  

They buyers were running pel-mel to the most expensive towns with the insanely high school ratings and the taxes were often through the roof. They were ignoring the cities and towns with really GOOD schools and nice neighborhoods. Now the tax bite, is going to make these areas that have lower taxes and lower prices will get some traction. 

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