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Property Tax Assessment: How Much Is Your Home Worth?

When an individual buys a home, the property immediately becomes subject to property taxes that are determined by a local taxing authority, like a municipal or county government. While most Boston homeowners are accustomed to paying these taxes, many people, especially those considering purchasing their first home, may not be familiar with how property tax rates are determined.

According to FindLaw, a property tax assessment is a general estimate of how much a piece of property is worth, and the valuation or appraisal of that property helps establish how much of the local property tax levy will be paid by the owner. That value, once it is determined, is multiplied by the local tax rates or “mill rate” to determine the how much property tax the owner is required to pay for the property.

The "value" of a home in Boston, for instance, can be determined by its actual or appraised value, fair cash value, or market value. Most states focus on the "market value" of a house, which is the amount of money a well-informed buyer would pay for a given portion of property. Certain factors can affect the assessed value of a property, such as:

  • Local construction costs;
  • Changes in the housing market where the property is located;
  • Inflation; and
  • The cost of normal operations, like utilities.

Property tax assessment also involves the valuation of two basic categories of property: real and personal. Real property is considered land or anything that is permanently attached to the land, like a building. Homes, offices, and apartments are common examples of real property. Personal property is any property that is not real property or not permanently attached to the land, like cars and household goods.

Many attorneys will remind homeowners that they have a right to a fair appraisal for their property. If you are concerned that your rights are being violated, meet with a real estate lawyer who can explain the legal options you have in getting your home properly appraised.

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