By Suzanne Gwilliam, Realtor
You’ve decided it’s time to buy a house before the rates go up anymore! This is a pretty big decision, so where should you start? Well, with me of course, lol! But seriously, where do you start your home search?
First things first, you need to decide where you want to live. Wherever you buy this house, you need to plan on staying there for at least five years. Why? Because selling a house is expensive! And, if you didn’t know already, buying a house requires some money down, too. So, plan on staying there for a while.
Now that there is some permanence thrown into the mix, you really need to think long and hard about where you want to put down your roots. Before you even go to that first Open House, you need to decide how much you can afford in a monthly mortgage payment. This payment will include the mortgage, taxes, homeowner’s insurance and possibly an association fee. So you really can’t just go by the price of the house. Taxes play a big part in the total monthly payment. If you are going to pay cash, then you really don’t worry about all that, but if you’re financing the purchase, then please read on!
If you have school aged children, then school district will probably be a major factor in where you want to go. To find up-to-date info on school rankings, I recommend going to www.greatschools.org . You just plug in the zip code of the town you like and it will list all the schools in the vicinity and what their ranking is on a scale of 1-10. Easy peezy! It’s a pretty easy way to weed out the districts you don’t want.
So after you decide on the district, then you can do a little research to look up the tax rates. I just Googled “Bucks County Tax Rates” and it took me to Buckscounty.org, Millage Rates. The higher the millage rate, the higher the property tax. So for instance, let’s say you want to live in the Pennsbury School District. That school district covers Yardley Boro, Lower Makefield and Falls Township, respectively. Yardley Boro’s millage rate is 214.24, Lower Makefield is 208.52 & Falls Township is 196.73. So, if you are going to be spending $300,000, your taxes would be less in Falls Township than Yardley Boro. Now, property values in Yardley Boro are generally higher, than in Falls Township. So if you want to be in “Town” & close to the river, then you just have to pay the price! Location, Location, Location!!!
But let’s say that you are looking to buy a four-bedroom Single Family in Levittown. You’ve looked at the houses online and they all look pretty much the same, thanks for that Mr. Levitt! So going by the school districts, you can choose Bristol Township, Falls Township or Middletown Township. If school district doesn’t matter to you, then you could just go by the millage rate.
Bristol Township’s high school rates a 3 and the millage rate is 264.25. Middletown’s H.S. rating is 8, millage 197.82 and Falls Township’s H.S. is a 9 and millage is 196.73. So from looking at this data, by moving to Falls Township, you would have a higher ranking school district and lower taxes. That is good for resale, but keep in mind, you will probably pay more for the four-bedroom in Falls than in Bristol Township because of the higher ranked schools. The exact same house could be selling for $190,000 in Bristol Township and go for $220,000 in Falls. So that’s definitely something to consider. It all comes down to what you can afford.
That’s why it’s imperative that you talk to a mortgage person and get that figured out. But keep an open mind, because if you only look at the sales price and not the taxes, you could actually pay more to live in Bristol Township because the taxes are that much higher!
Bottom line, do a little research and get with an agent who really knows the areas you are interested in. You want to gather as much data as you can when purchasing a house because it’s a big decision and you’re probably going to be there for a while. Run the numbers and see what works for you. It’s all about you, babe, so get the facts and figure out what works for you and your family! And keep me in mind, of course!!!
Suzanne can be reached at:
Bus: 215-860-9300 • Cell: 267-243-8487