Property taxes on Cape Cod currently range from a high of $14.57 per thousand dollars of assessed value in Sandwich, to a low of $5.08 in Chatham. The rate in Chatham is among the lowest in Massachusetts. Only Chilmark, Hancock, Edgartown, Nantucket, Alford, and Aquinnah have a lower rate.
The median tax rate on Cape Cod is $8.18 -- the Brewster rate.
It is easy to calculate a property tax bill if you know the assessed value of a home, which can be found online in the various town websites.
Divide the assessed value by 1000. For example, a home assessed at $389,000 would be 389. Then multiply by the tax rate. For Brewster, that would be 389 x 8.17 = 3,182.02. The annual tax bill for that property in Brewster is $3,182.02.
To illustrate how much a tax rate can matter, take the same property in high-tax Sandwich and the tax bill on a $389,000 home is $5,667.73 . In Chatham, it's $1,976.12. Big difference which adds up over time. In ten years with hypothetically no increase in the rate, the Sandwich homeowner pays out $56,677,30 while the Chatham homeowner pays $19,761.20. The difference is enough to buy a car.
To be sure, property tax does not tell the entire story about home costs. In Chatham the median price of a home is now $525,000, according to the Massachusetts Property Information Network. In Sandwich the median price is $289,500. Therefore, the median tax bill in Chatham is $2,667.00 and the median tax bill in Sandwich is $4,218.01.
With the cost of schools, fire and police protection and road repair etc. costing essentially the same from town to town, a municipality with lower property values must offset the difference with a higher tax rate, thus the wide discrepancy.
Lastly, while the cost of your home does not change, the cost of your property tax almost always rises each year. As you shop for a home, ask your realtor about the property tax rate. Unlike the mortgage payment, the tax bill will increase over the course of homeownership.