May 26, 2022

Whether the hot housing market is cooling — as some real-estate analysts have speculated — or not, millions of homeowners have already been burned by the property-tax spikes that accompanied their skyrocketing home values. What should you do if you can no longer afford your property taxes?

Nationwide, the property-tax bill for a single-family home rose 4.4% in 2020, according to Attom Data Solutions. And realAppeal, which helps people appeal their assessed property taxes, forecasts property taxes will increase about 6.5%, on average, in 2021.

These tax hikes hit financially vulnerable homeowners the hardest, including older Americans living on fixed incomes, according to Michael Billnitzer, executive director of the Cleveland-based Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging’s ESOP subsidiary. ESOP, or Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People, provides housing and financial counseling to aging adults.

The property-tax vise for some older adults

Although monthly Social Security payments are set to increase by 5.9% in January — the biggest jump in four decades — that’s not enough to help budget-strapped older adults satisfy soaring property-tax demands.

“Here in Cuyahoga County, property taxes have gone up, on average, 16%,” Billnitzer said. “Older adults, many already struggling to make ends meet as it was, are now facing these kinds of steep tax increases and finding it much harder to afford aging in their home.”

Billnitzer worries that bloated…

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