McHenry County realtors face daunting task – selling homes with sky-high property tax bills

McHenry County realtors face daunting task – selling homes with sky-high property tax bills

Local realtors are having a difficult time convincing clients not only to move to the county, but to stay.

McHenry County home values still have not recovered from the Great Recession.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau show home prices were down nearly 14 percent from 2006-2016. But over the same time, residents saw property tax bills increase by 32 percent.

Homeowners have seen their home equity sapped away by high property tax bills. And that makes realtors’ jobs more difficult.

Shawn Strach, owner of Dream Real Estate in McHenry, had a client looking to sell his home for around $500,000. With the steep rise in property taxes bringing the total bill for the property to nearly $20,000, Strach couldn’t get a showing.

“As soon as you start to cross those higher tax amounts, that inventory is sitting for a much longer length of time,” Strach said. “For years everybody wanted more square footage in a home and now they’re looking for higher quality with a smaller footprint because the tax[es are] lower.”

It’s not just the McHenry County housing market that’s cause for concern. Home prices in Illinois were down 10 percent from 2006-2016. But over the same time, Illinoisans saw property tax bills increase over 51 percent.

Sue Miller, managing broker at Coldwell Banker and the 2017 Illinois Realtor of the Year, sees the effects of residents needing to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for their homes, as well. Especially when it comes to houses in the $300,000 to $500,000 range.

The pressure of property taxes has forced some buyers out of state, even if that means just over the border to Wisconsin, or even to Indiana.

“I had one client last year transition to Indiana. He worked in Chicago … so they chose Indiana because of the much-reduced cost there,” Strach said. “I’ve been a realtor for 15 years and we’ve always had people leave the state and retire, but now we’re having not just the empty nesters or the retirees leaving, we’re having our traditional marketplace leave Illinois as well.”

Both Miller and Strach believe things need to change in order to save Illinois, mainly in the form of property tax relief without cutting services. Strach knows it can be done, just by looking at other states and how they use their funds.

While Miller’s 30-year career has “blessed [her] with good business,” she has had an increase in phone calls asking her how the burden of high property taxes are going to affect homeowners.

Strach believes the burden will hinder his business soon if nothing is done.

“I do think that we are going to see that affect business this year. How much is always the big question,” he said. “Boy, if I had that crystal ball … I’d be the richest guy in real estate.”

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