Last week I met with a new client for the first time. He was looking at homes priced up to $600,000 in Lorton, Burke, Springfield and Woodbridge. When I asked him if he had met with a loan officer to qualify for a mortgage he replied, "No, I've been using a mortgage calculator".  He has good credit and he was comfortable with a mortgage payment of up to $3000 per month. The problem was, he didn't calculate in taxes, insurance or HOA fee's which totaled $750 per month. Of course, this raised the total monthly payment significantly.

My client was disappointed to learn that he was calculating a principle and interest only payment which was far lower than what the actual payment would be. This information changed his price range and we started looking at less expensive homes. 

Consequently, there can be a substantial difference in the total tax bill (on similar homes) within the same zip code but different neighborhoods. Some differences align to lot size but some of it is simply because one neighborhood commands higher sales prices than another. You'll find higher tax bills in higher priced neighborhoods.

Here's an example of how the tax bill differs from a neighborhood in Lorton (Fairfax County) compared to Woodbridge (Prince William County). I compared a 2800 SQ FT home in Lorton's Laurel Hill neighborhood to a home with similar SQ FT in Port Potomac (Woodbridge). The total tax bill of the Laurel Hill property was close to $6700 while the Port Potomac property was close to $5200.  That may be fine for some and a deal breaker for others when factoring in gas prices and commute time but it's good to know. 

Before you officially start looking at properties it's always best to meet with a reputable local loan officer to get your price range squared away. I can work with you and your loan officer to get the information you and he/she need related to taxes and HOA fees so you can make informed decisions and know what you can afford.