Home buyer blues: Prices drop, but property taxes don't

Thinking about taking advantage of the housing slump by scooping up a house whose price has declined 30 or 40 percent? Well, in Latin the phrase is, Caveat emptor, or 'Let the buyer beware,' and that advice applies more than ever in today's housing market. When it comes to houses, you'd better do your homework, because in most cases, while prices are down, property taxes have not dropped anywhere near as much.

Real estate and accounting professionals agree that in addition to property taxes, potential home buyers and speculative investors should evaluate the numerous taxes and other factors affecting the cost of living in an area, outside of the home purchase price and the payment needed to service the mortgage and property taxes. And chief among these are: municipal user fees and special district taxes, and other taxes levied in the area, such as income taxes and sales taxes.