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Old 03-01-2014, 10:24 AM
Location: The Netherlands
24 posts, read 47,661 times
Reputation: 16


Hello Houstonians,

I looked at some very nice properties around your beautiful city of Houston.

Is it true that the property tax in f.e. Spring, TX is relatively high? For a home of around 260 k. you pay around 7000 per year? Is water, carbage etc. included?
Is there a huge difference between different areas around Houston? We are mid 40s, older child in college ( so schooldistrict not important) and looking for a nice home (between 230 - 290) with sizeable garden preferebly with pool. Any suggestions?
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Old 03-01-2014, 12:19 PM
90 posts, read 160,938 times
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Property taxes in the Houston area do tend to be high compared to many though not all other regions. The property taxes are assessed and paid through the county (which in the case of most of the area commonly referred to as "Spring" is Harris County) and not the municipality (which doesn't matter in this case because "Spring" not an actual municipality).

In some outlying areas/suburbs of the Houston Metro area, there are also MUD entities which assess their own taxes (have no idea if there are any in Spring).

The property taxes do not include water, garbage , or other utilities. In the Spring area, you would have a choice of various providers for these.

On the other side of the balance, there are no state income taxes in Texas. And there are some ways (like the homestead exemption) which can lower the property taxes.

Whether the property vs state income tax equation is favorable can't really be generalized - it depends too much on each person's individual financial situation.

It would be helpful if you defined what you mean by "sizeable" - in units commonly understood in the US like square feet, acres, etc...(of the size of the entire property you prefer).

Also, by"garden" do you mean just an ordinary "backyard" , or do you mean a landscaped, designed floral display garden and/or an already established vegetable/herb garden?
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Old 03-01-2014, 02:15 PM
Location: The Netherlands
24 posts, read 47,661 times
Reputation: 16
Thank you (Imback) for your quick and informative answer. So what I understand about the taxes is that it can differ quite substantially between different neighborhoods/areas? What do you mean with 'homestead exemption'? (Sorry I'm from The Netherlands). In 1 house I found on line, I saw an exemption for army veterans. Is that an exception or more common? My husband is an army veteran.

And you're so right. 'Sizeable does not say a lot I guess. By 'garden' I mean backyard. So no designed floral display etc. Just a nice backyard where the pool does not fill the whole plot. I would love to see some grass around the pool.
Thanks in advance for your answers. Very kind!
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Old 03-01-2014, 03:31 PM
Location: Houston, TX
17,030 posts, read 29,209,656 times
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Homestead exemption is about 20% tax reduction if you live there on Jan 1st.
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Old 03-01-2014, 04:03 PM
2,931 posts, read 4,630,098 times
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Search and pick fast. Now is when everyone is coming from out of state looking and placing bids on houses to be ready to move after May.

If you're liking Spring it's tough because sizable and a pool for under $300k go quick. I did a search on Houston Real estate, Houston homes, Houston Realtors - HAR.com for what you want, price and a pool and almost every one had an option pending on it.

Don't doddle because Houston sellers are taking advantage of everyone and their whole state moving to Houston and what was $250k is $30k more than it should be because the market is hot. Houston is hot so many want pools and will pay more to get it.

What kind of area do you want? You said Spring so I take that as suburban, quiet empty nesters but many here will think you're the we need to live in town and party and be the going out empty nesters because kid is out of the house and would steer you to live as close to bars and clubs and fancy restaurants and the opera and plays and such in "town" and free to do nightly things every night of the week. But your budget pushes you out of there. But you do have lots of areas to choose from that fit your budget close and far.

Are you both retired or will someone or both be commuting to work? If so providing a location helps us to help you better.
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Old 03-01-2014, 04:11 PM
90 posts, read 160,938 times
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I was thinking non-American but still native speaker of English - so I had bet most likely UK or Australia, but I shouldn't be surprised considering how many Dutch people speak such extremely good English....

Wow - it is a tall order trying to explain the Texas property tax system. The taxes are based on the "appraised value" of the property (determined in Texas by a government bureaucracy called an "appraisal district". Each county has its own appraisal district). ("Appraised value" is NOT the same as the selling price by the way).

The property taxes are owed to various jurisdictions like the county, the school district, the town, flood control districts, etc....). Each one of these entities sets it own tax "rate" (the rate/$100.00 of appraised value of the property). For example, the 2013 tax rate for Harris County was .4145500, so if your house had an appraised value of 200K, you would have owed Harris County $829.00 (200,000/ 100 = 2000 ; 2000 x .4145500 = 829.00). But then you must do the same calculation for all the other entities ( school, district, town, etc...) using THEIR tax rates which can be higher or lower. Add all of these up - and that is the cumulative property tax you pay each year (the only merciful part of all this is that you get only ONE tax bill and write ONE check - out of which the government gives the various jurisdictions their shares of the tax money).

So you can see that the tax amount of given property can vary depending on 1) appraised value of property and 2) tax rates of all the various jurisdictions which have a tax claim on a particular property.

Because the Houston metro is so enormous (several counties, several school districts, many separate towns, those MUDs, etc...) - it's hard to generalize. BUT - you can go each county's appraisal district website, search for an individual property by address, and find out exactly the appraised value and tax rates are for that property (for Harris County, it's Harris County Appraisal District). The current property tax amounts is also generally provided to prospective buyers by the real estate agents (try Houston Real estate, Houston homes, Houston Realtors - HAR.com).

As far as "exemptions", these refer to ways people can qualify to have their property rates lowered to some extent and/or to not have the rates go up as much every year. There are various types (for the disabled, the over-65 years of age, etc..). The "homestead" exemption can be claimed if the house is your primary residence ("homestead"). I would bet that any type of veteran's exemption would apply only to those who had served in the US armed forces (though I've never researched this so I don't know for sure).

By the way, is there any particular reason you are looking at Spring as opposed to other areas? Not that I mean to say that Spring is bad. But if you will be working, it is absolutely critical that the commute to work be a major consideration in your choice of home location (and in Houston, commutes are best gauged in driving time - minutes, hours - more than distance).

In fact, common advice given on this forum is "First, find out where you're going to be working - then decide on where to live").

Besides property taxes, the driving distance/time can also have a non-trivial impact on your finances - cost of gasoline, road tolls, and increased wear and tear on your cars.

And you will need to drive (you and your husband will each need a car) to function in Houston and its suburbs (certainly in Spring). Public transportation as you know it in The Netherlands is for all practical purposes non-existent in Houston. Using a bicycle to get around is not practical except maybe in a few neighborhoods in the central ITL area ("inside the Loop"), and a nice home in a safe ITL area is outside your budget. And from May until September, walking/bicycling will be like exercising in a sauna.
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Old 03-01-2014, 06:16 PM
Location: Westbury
3,283 posts, read 5,666,070 times
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I dont know if your husband would qualify for the veteran exemption not being US military
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Old 03-02-2014, 04:37 AM
Location: The Netherlands
24 posts, read 47,661 times
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Thank all of you for your answers AND compliments on my English. I try my best.

Thank you so much for all the information around the different taxes. And I thought Holland has a very complex tax system. But bureacracy is a common thing everywhere. I have to dig into this to see what will be the best for us in our situation.

My husband is American so a veteran of the American army. That's why we are interested in it.

I understand that when we move to the US my cycling days back and forward to work will probably be over. And to be honest - I would love to drive a care for a while. I am soooo tired to cycle through wind, rain, storm, hail etc here. Till of course I get fed up being stuck in traffic, then I would probably going to miss it again.

I definately see options for us there around Houston. Thanks again. If everybody is so kind and helpfull in Texas, I'm sure we will have a great time!
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Old 03-02-2014, 05:15 AM
Location: Memorial Villages
1,277 posts, read 1,355,335 times
Reputation: 1462
If you and/or your husband will be working in Houston, what part of town will you be working in? There are reasonably affordable suburbs on all sides of the city that will meet your needs as far as lot size, pool, etc for under $300k (particularly if you're not too particular about schools). Commute times in Houston can be long enough that living on the same side of town as your work should definitely be a priority.

Depending on what part of the Netherlands you live in, you might find traffic in Houston to be unbearable or not so bad (I'm a native Texan currently living in the Hague, and rush hour traffic here seems worse than back home even with all of the biking/train/tram alternatives). Mass transit definitely isn't as well-developed in Houston as in the Netherlands, but most suburbs offer decent and affordable "park and ride" options where you park your car in the suburbs and take a bus into the city for work.

The "bicycle commuting" that's so common in the Netherlands is all but unheard of in Houston; distances and summer heat render it impractical for most. But recreational cycling is very popular, and there are parks and bike paths in many areas around Houston that encourage it.

Regarding taxes - if you're looking at particular homes/neighborhoods and want to check tax rates quickly, you can search for a home's address on HCAD.org and pull up the tax records. In general, annual property tax rates in the Harris county area range from as low as ~2.3% (in some of the wealthy "pocket cities" that are surrounded by Houston) to as high as ~3.6% (in recently-built communities with MUD taxes).
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Old 03-03-2014, 05:56 AM
Location: Houston
811 posts, read 1,435,879 times
Reputation: 1143
You haven't said if a commute is going to be a factor in where you choose to live. If not, you should check out the Champions area. It is close to Spring. You will find a very nice house for your price range with a pool. The houses are older but a lot of them have been upgraded. See for example

[mod edit - no single properties]

Last edited by Oildog; 03-03-2014 at 06:33 AM..
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