The general Charleston area is made up of three counties: Charleston County, Berkeley County, and Dorchester County. These three counties vary in tax prices. If you were to compare two houses that were identical in price – one in Charleston County and one in Dorchester County – you would pay considerably more in taxes for the Charleston County home.
As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay about $700 per $100,000 of the purchase price of a home in Charleston. In the fair chance that the home you’re considering is not priced exactly by the hundred thousands, you can calculate it by saying $7 per $1,000 of the purchase price. For homes in Charleston County, this number is slightly higher. So, if you were trying to calculate property taxes for a Berkeley County home priced $300,000, you can expect to pay roughly $2,100 a year for taxes.
If you want to get more specific, your real estate agent should be able to provide you with actual figures for each county. You (or your agent) can use this information to come up with a more accurate estimate. When you talk with your agent, be sure to tell him or her whether the home would be your primary residence. And, when we say primary residence, we mean that the owner is a South Carolina resident and actually lives in the home (he or she does not rent it out or use it as a second home). In South Carolina, the assessment ratio is 4% for primary residence and 6% for non-primary residence.
Charleston County includes most homes in downtown Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, James Island, John’s Island, and West Ashley. Berkeley County includes most homes in Daniel Island, North Charleston, Hanahan, and Goose Creek. And, Dorchester County encompasses most homes in Summerville and some homes in North Charleston.
Your agent can also pull up tax records to see what the current owners paid in taxes last year. Also, sometimes the MLS report for the home states the tax amount. But, know that the amount the owners paid was based on a different house price. So these numbers are slightly outdated and are generally lower than what you would pay if you bought the house. The most accurate way to estimate taxes is to actually do the math yourself (or ask your real estate agent to do it for you). And, always keep in mind that the numbers you get in any estimate are simply estimates. No one can say with certainty how much you will pay in taxes until you actually pay taxes on your new home for the first time. But, it’s important to get these estimates so that you can have a good idea of what you’ll be paying in taxes. This yearly expense can greatly affect the affordability of your new home.