Photo: Bernard Spragg. NZ/Flickr

Buyers often fail to consider all their carrying costs when looking at houses for sale — regularly, just the up-front costs, such as purchase price, home inspection costs, renovations, legal fees and the land transfer tax, are top-of-mind.

But it’s important to factor all regular shelter costs into your budget to determine if you can truly afford a home.

Property Taxes are a Hidden Expense

Property taxes can be one of the most significant carrying costs of your home, because you have little control over them and they almost always go up over time. In fact, property tax can often cost upwards of $500 per month, depending on the value of your home.

With other carrying costs like utilities and maintenance, homeowners have at least have some measure of control, like wearing a sweater instead of turning up the heat and choosing to garden instead of hire a landscaper.

How is Property Tax Calculated?

Property tax is based on two things: the assessed value of your home, based on its age, condition, renovations etc., and the residential “mill” rate set by the local municipal council. The proceeds of the tax are essential for funding city services like the library, police force and transit (a portion is also given to the provincial government as part of Alberta’s Education Property Tax).

As it’s beneficial for prospective buyers to take the property tax rate of a city into account when looking at homes for sale and choosing where to live, Zoocasa has ranked each Alberta city by mill rate to see which charge the least to highest property-tax rates. Property-tax rates were sourced from each municipality’s website and August 2018 average home prices were sourced from each region’s real estate board.

The Highest and Lowest Property Tax Rates in Alberta

The findings reveal that Grand Prairie has by far the highest property tax rate (and is also Canada’s most dangerous city, according to Maclean’s), charging 1.48 per cent annually. That’s three times more than Fort McMurray, the winner for the Alberta city with the lowest property tax. Buyers should budget $308 per month for tax in this city for a home worth $250,000.

Calgary, on the other hand, has more moderate levy, set at 0.635 per cent. For a home of the same price, it would only cost homeowners $132 monthly. However, those who choose a more expensive home, around the $500,000 range, would pay $265.

Edmonton charges slightly higher rates, at 0.868 per cent, costing homeowners up to $362 a month for a home up to half a million dollars.

Check out the infographic below to see the full list:

Zoocasa.com is a real estate company that combines online search tools and a full-service brokerage to empower Canadians to buy or sell their homes faster, easier and more successfully. Home buyers can browse homes across Canada on the website or the free iOS app.

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