Think Seattle-area property taxes are rising fast? It’s no Bellingham

While the Seattle area has some of the most expensive homes in the country, residents actually pay less in property taxes than similar markets. 

The effective tax rate, or the amount paid in taxes on a typical home, in the Seattle area is 14% lower than the national average. The Seattle area’s rate, $706 per $100,000 in home value, is lower than over a hundred other metros, including Spokane and Yakima. 

In 2022, governments in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro collected $6.2 billion in property taxes on single-family homes, up 9% from the previous year, according to a recent report by ATTOM, a curator of real estate data. 

The average estimated value of a Seattle-area single family home is over $980,000 — more than double the national average — and ranks 11th out of over 200 metros around the country, even higher than New York and Miami.

Yet the average amount collected per homeowner is not as high as New York, Boston, Los Angeles or San Francisco. 

While Washington has a lower effective property tax rate than many other states, ranking 29th of 50 states, that status is precarious. 

In 2022, the state recorded one of the highest increases in the effective tax rate, growing 7% when the national average rate declined 4%. Among metros in the state, Bellingham and Bremerton recorded the highest increase over 2021.

If home values continue to drop in 2023, while high mortgage rates and inflation continue to cut into what homebuyers can afford, that national downward trend in effective tax rates could reverse, ATTOM said in its report. This would also mean effective tax rates in Washington could rise further as governments move to maintain their incomes from a shrinking tax base

Overall, Washington is one of the top five expensive housing markets in the country and the average amount collected per homeowner is 35% above the national average, with one of the highest increases (9%) over 2021. 

At the county level, King County and the counties farther north including Snohomish, San Juan, Island and Whatcom hold some of the highest estimated property values in the state.

Together with Clark County in Southwest Washington, these counties collected the highest average amount per property owner in 2022.

Over the previous year, the average amount paid in taxes increased the most in Central Washington’s Klickitat, Franklin and Kittitas counties, which cover the Tri-Cities and Ellensburg metro areas. Despite the increase, their effective tax rates are still lower than the state average of $700 per $100,000 in property value.

Instead, Pierce County has the highest effective tax rate, followed by Thurston and Walla Walla counties.

Visual reporting of local news and trends is partially underwritten by Microsoft Philanthropies. The Seattle Times maintains editorial control over this and all its coverage.

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