Property taxes: Baltimore vs. D.C.
Baltimore homes are a lot less expensive than D.C.'s, though, so it's useful to know what you'd be paying if you recently bought the average house in each city (assuming your assessment matches up with the average sales price in August):
Baltimore, with its $195,000 sales price: $4,423.
Washington, with its $557,000 sales price: $4,191.
Wait, you math wonks are saying: Isn't $557,000 divided by 100 times 0.85 actually more than $4,700? Yes indeed -- but one of D.C.'s owner-occupancy benefits is that you don't have to pay taxes on the first $64,000.
One advantage Baltimore has over D.C. is that its cap on the amount your tax bill can increase if you're an owner-occupier is 4 percent a year, while Washington's is 10 percent.
Property taxes are a topic of continual debate and frustration in Baltimore. Both real estate agents and economists say the city's rate gets in the way of more people moving here -- whether from Washington or elsewhere.
I chatted with Joseph Himali, incoming president of the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors, to double-check my grasp of D.C. tax rules. He shared a tale of a couple he's working with who decided to move to Baltimore from overseas because the home prices were much lower than in D.C. Then they got here and realized what their taxes would be, he said. They weren't thrilled about their commute to the D.C. 'burbs, either.
They're in the process of selling here and buying in Washington instead.
"I think people on the first blush will seriously consider Baltimore; then they'll look at taxes," said Himali, principal broker of Best Address Real Estate in Georgetown. You'll eventually pay off a mortgage, "but in Baltimore, you can't ever get rid of the tax."
Comments? Arguments? Chime in.