Any talk of the real estate market in Illinois these days often leads to at least a cursory mention of property taxes. Yes, it’s true. Illinois has some of the highest property tax rates in the country. And according to an April 2019 study by Attom Data Solutions, good old Lake County has one of the highest effective tax rates in Illinois.
But, it’s important to know that even within a county, tax assessments can vary. That’s why many North Shore homebuyers are often surprised to learn about Lake Forest.
“Best Kept Secret on the North Shore”
“Lake Forest property taxes are among the lowest in the Chicagoland area relative to home values, because its school districts are well-funded, and the area has a high assessment basis,” says attorney Robert H. Rosenfeld, whose eponymous Chicago-based firm has specialized in property tax appeals for more than 30 years.
Specifically, Rosenfeld estimates that, “a $1 million home in Lake Forest, in the Kelmscott Park taxing district, would have an annual tax bill of around $17,666. By comparison, a million-dollar home in Glencoe (Cook County/New Trier Township), would have an annual tax bill of around $25,000,” he says.
“There’s a heightened focus on total cost of ownership today, and property taxes are an important piece of that puzzle,” notes Keri Cook Falls, vice president of brokerage services in the Lake Forest office of @properties. “Lake Forest’s low effective tax rate is one of the best kept secrets on the North Shore. When you factor in the school districts, lake access, a vibrant downtown, and the ease of getting to the city and O’Hare, it really adds up to a great value in the luxury marketplace.”
Appeals & Exemptions
Even with lower effective taxes than many neighboring North Shore and Lake County municipalities, Rosenfeld still stresses the importance of property tax appeals.
“We have been enormously successful in obtaining reductions in Lake County,” says Rosenfeld, noting that attorneys such as himself work on contingency, so, “if there are no tax savings, there are no attorney’s fees.” In other words, it doesn’t cost you anything to try.
Meanwhile, being a part of a homeowners association such as the one at Kelmscott Park, may have other advantages when it comes to appealing property taxes.
“When you appeal taxes as an HOA vs. individually, the process is streamlined, and the costs are generally shared among all participants,” says Rosenfeld.
Homeowners should also make sure they are taking full advantage of available exemptions, such as the homestead exemption and exemptions for senior citizens and veterans, Rosenfeld notes.
Property taxes may be a cloud over Illinois today, but Lake Forest remains a bright spot for those seeking a luxury home and lifestyle with taxes that are reasonable by comparison.
Reach out to our team today to discuss the available options at Kelmscott Park.