You could qualify for property tax rebates and not even know it

You could qualify for property tax rebates and not even know it
Thanks to the Bailey Bill, David Jordan was able to afford a complete rehab of a historic home. (Source: WMBF News)
Thanks to the Bailey Bill, David Jordan was able to afford a complete rehab of a historic home. (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - What if you were told there's a bill in place in Horry County that would let you save significantly when it comes to your property taxes?

Ever heard of the Bailey Bill? Chances are you haven't, but word is spreading, and it's all in the name of historical preservation.

Over the bridge in Conway there's also an effort underway to hold onto history, to preserve it. In fact, they're offering extra incentive to keep their city intact.

David Jordan grew up across the street from the Arthur Burroughs house in Conway; never did he think he'd call it home

"when I moved home I was trying to get close to my parents or where I grew up, and lived about six blocks from here, and when the house came on the market, of course it was sort of out of my budget," Jordan said.

Purchasing this home was just the beginning. Sitting in the city's historical district for well over a hundred years, this house had seen its share of history and had the battle wounds to prove it. David knew a massive renovation was needed.

"The air conditioning was from the 60s," Jordan said. "There were leaks all over the house from the plumbing - leaks from the roof."

David, a former tax attorney, knew he had to make the numbers work, and as he started investigating the Bailey Bill, his vision started coming into focus.

Here's how it works: let's say you buy an old fixer-upper for $100,000 – the Bailey Bill allows you to freeze that tax rate at the $100,000 purchase price, the pre-construction rate, so you're not penalized for doing the work on the house to improve the value, you're actually rewarded for doing so.

In Conway, the Bailey Bill requires a home to be at least 50 years old. It must also be on the national or local historic registry. Clear that hurdle and you'll next need to invest 25 percent of the purchase price, or fair market value, into approved renovations.

So again, let's use that example of a $100,000 home. Twenty-five percent is $25,000 - typically a roof and an HVAC unit will cost you pretty close to that.

Your payoff comes in the form of tax credits. Meet those requirements and your property taxes will be locked in at that pre-construction purchase price for 15 years.  That's at both the city and county levels - a win for the homeowner, and a victory for the city as well.

"The Bailey Bill is put in place in part to be able to preserve each community's identity," said Conway Planning Director Adam Emrick, "to preserve these pieces of cultural history that make it unique from each other."

The incentives continue at the commercial level. The old warehouse on the city's historic riverfront is a perfect example.  It's on the market now, just waiting for its next owner to take the plunge.

"There's a state tax credit, there's a federal tax credit, and there's a state credit for abandoned buildings that you can stack onto each other, and again that's 65 percent of value of your investment that you can get back in tax credits as well as freezing the tax rate," Emrick explained.

It's the purchase and renovation project Emrick believes will cement the city's revitalization efforts into place.

"There's a lot of activity and a lot of excitement around the waterfront, but this will be a lynchpin in that excitement and vibrancy of our waterfront downtown," Emrick said.

The Bailey Bill exists in Myrtle Beach as well. Homes at least 50 years old on the national register are eligible, but the savings will only be seen at the county level.

Myrtle Beach has wonderful things to offer," Emrick said. "They've got the beautiful waterfront, which is new and shiny, but they also have a lot of history that could be capitalized on to a greater extent, and it could be one of those things that could set it apart from other places that have other oceanfront developments."

In Conway, Jordan is now able to sit back and reflect on a job well done, sure his pocketbook thanks him. But he thinks somehow, Arthur Burroughs' widow is looking down from above, offering her seal of approval as well.

It's important to note in Horry County, the Bailey Bill savings are not transferable, so if you sell the house. the savings don't go along with the home.  Jordan will tell you he's fine with that, as his home will be staying in his family for years to come.

Interactive: slide to the left to see what the Arthur Burroughs House looks like now:

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