Take notice homeowners, you can apply to the County to have your property tax assessment adjustment for declining value. The burden is on the homeowner to provide evidence of the lower valuation. If the county approves the lower valuation you're property taxes can be lowered. What impact does this have, really? Do you loose your prop 13 limit of no more than 2% increase per year?
The truth is that many properties, particularly in Lamorinda, have not decreased in value. Also the tax bill is based on a 1% rate on the valuation then assessements, like sanitary sewage fee, school fees, bart fees, etc. are added to the base tax rate to make the overall rate something close to 1.28%. Your potential savings will be derived from the 1% of the potentially decreased value. Thus, if you make a case that your property value has declined, say $50,000. then you will have your taxes lowered approximately $500 for the year. But, take a look, if you have purchased your home some years ago the tax assessed value is far below what you think is the value today. Because of the proposition 13 limits on increasing the taxable value, the assessed value is likely lower than the new market value you might think your property is now worth. You may feel your property has dropped from something like 1.2 million to about a million dollars and your assessed value is about $400,000. In this case you will not be able to support the lowering of your assessed property value.
Also, once your taxes are lowered, the county keeps track of where your property valuation would be if you were still getting your 2% increases in value each year. They are now not limited to the 2% each year until your value is restored to the value it would have been assessed if it were never lowered. And unless, you purchased in the last year or so, you will find it extremely diffiuclt to finding supporting evidence of a lower value. So, you won't loose your prop 13 limit overall, only temporarily while the county catches up to your old assessed value. Lamorinda homes have typically just leveled off in tough markets while homes in other areas have fallen up to 50%. So when you read in the paper that values in Contra Costa County have fallen by 35%, keep in mind that includes areas like east county, Richmond and other areas that have been hit hard by declining values. Location, location, location....this is an example of the real world meaning of that old time real estate expression.