One of the most important roles I play as a Realtor is an educator. Prospective home buyers come from both ends of the spectrum concerning their knowledge of real estate. Some that I meet with have studied the entire purchase process while others have done nothing but decided they want to purchase a home. I love working with both!
Property taxes tend to be a concern for many buyers as they look over the property tax history and see that the tax bill for a home has fluctuated significantly. It can be frightening realizing that the home you like has gone from $900 in taxes one year to over $3000 the next. That's why I work to educate my clients on these items throughout the process.
In South Carolina, the answer is almost always that the seller is no longer claiming the house as their legal residence. Our owner occupancy taxes are 4% of the assessed value and owner occupants often have tax credits that bring the bill lower. Additionally, if the owner is over 65, they may be receiving homestead exemption which is a significant cut to their tax bill. However, when you no longer claim the property as your primary residence the charge is now 6% and often there are less credits bringing this bill down.
Property taxes are an ongoing conversation with my clients as it is extremely important that they remember to notify the county post closing that they are living in the house as their primary residence. Otherwise, their estimate mortgage payments are going to be quite off when the bill is due.