July 21, 2011

San Francisco Property Tax Roll Up 1.3 Percent Year-Over-Year

According to Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting, the City and County of San Francisco’s property roll value grew by 1.3 percent over the past fiscal year to $163 billion. The commercial versus residential breakdown was as follows:

Commercial: +0.46%
Industrial: +1.72%
Multi-family Residential: +1.32%
Single-Family Residential: +3.05%

At the same time, 18,800 San Francisco homeowners received a one-year temporary reduction in the assessed value of their properties, 16,000 of which were given out proactively.

First Published: July 21, 2011 1:30 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Complete BS, he's just trying to get elected. We bought in late 2007. Our PacHeights condo is now down 20-25%. Last year we finally got a 3% reduction. I filed again this year (informal review) and even included an appraisal - instead the Assessor reset our value to the maximum allowed under Prop 13 (the original purchase price plus annual allowances).

I'm filing a "formal review" now, only to find that they are backed up about 2 years. In the meantime, Phil Ting gets to brag about these numbers and the City get's a free loan.

Homeowner class-action lawsuit anyone?

Posted by: jj at July 21, 2011 3:02 PM

Not BS at all. We just received notification of a 24% reduction in our assessment, and that's on top of the 10% reduction we received in 2010. Never filed for review in either case, and the assessor's office told me they were proactively reassessing in most of the southeastern neighborhoods.

Posted by: BernalDweller at July 21, 2011 3:22 PM

Am I reading this correctly?

Not trying to be argumentative but simply understand the post.

Residential owners pay more property tax than commericial and industrial owners? 2x to 3x as much?

Owners of income property pay 50% less than Residential Owners in taxes?

Thank you

Posted by: Armand Der-Hacobian at July 21, 2011 4:02 PM

Armand: The numbers are simply how much the total revenue from each category grew, so it really says nothing about what tax rates anyone pays.

Given Prop. 13, I imagine that there is a huge amount of momentum in the growth of the property roll value. So many properties are officially undervalued, that even in the wake of a major downturn they're still catching up ever-so-slowly.

Posted by: Alai at July 21, 2011 4:10 PM

Armand -- as Alai said, it is simply the growth of each category.

However, please note that over time, residential owners will pay more property tax than commercial/industrial owners. This is an intended consequence of Prop 13 (the wise voters of California voted for this!).

Because corporations will rarely transfer property, their property never gets re-valued. In contrast, in the residential market, where property is far more likely to be transferred on a routine basis, re-valuations happen all the time. Over time, this means that residential re-valuations will continually outpace commercial/industrial re-valuations, and residential property owners will continue to have their tax burden increase, while commercial/industrial property largely stays the same.

Posted by: sfrenegade at July 21, 2011 4:24 PM

Bernal - I've heard this from others. Big reductions in some cases (perhaps neighborhoods?) and not others.

Could the assessor actually believe that prices in Pacific Heights have not come down? I just don't get it. I have a quality appraisal that clearly shows the 20-25% decline in value since we purchased. The assessor says we have more equity than when we purchased. Absolutely not true (I wish it were).

Posted by: jj at July 21, 2011 5:32 PM

jj & BernalDweller: both of you are correct. the system (like most things gov't) isn't BS or arbitrary, but follows a very clearly defined process. Gov't is all about process/procedure -- they have to follow rules very closely otherwise they get hit loudly with citizen complaints. the gov't defense against complaints is always to narrowly follow the rules.

I'm in same situation as jj, but I know exactly why. my house has gone down by ~22%, got a reduction last yr, and refiled this yr with a appraisal. it was rejected, they reset my assessment to Prop13 limit -3%. thus, I'm in their calculations as a "reduction", but it's not valid.

what happened? they have unpublished rules about what counts as a comparable, and the appropriate time frame. my appraisal was in early Oct, which I knew was likely to fail as too old. so I'll be appealing. when using comparables, make sure to reference sq ft, not rooms. they care more about other 1600 sq ft buildings than other 2 bd/ 2 ba buildings.

BernalDweller just (luckily) fell into a favorable rule index, though I couldn't hazard a guess as to what that is since they're all unpublished.

fun with bureaucracy!!

Posted by: Average Joe at July 21, 2011 5:40 PM

jj- I'm in the same boat (live in Pac Heights too). Purchased in late 2007 and the value of my home is off by 20-25%. I filed for a reduction last year and was REJECTED. To add insult to injury, my assessed value has also been increased for 2012. Wake up and read this blog Phil - prices city wide are DOWN.

Posted by: just Lookin at July 21, 2011 6:14 PM

The frustrating thing is that it changes from year to year. In the five years since we purchased our place (in district 5), our assessment has ranged from +/-8% of our purchase price. The current notice assessed it around 2% higher than the original price. I think that's around 10-15% too high, and I'm going to file for a formal appeal.

I agree about Phil just looking for positive press though. He won't get my vote.

Posted by: Lance at July 21, 2011 8:01 PM

I purchased in December of 2009, and 19 months later they still haven't reset the value to the purchase price as prop 13 requires. They still keep using the prior owner's much higher valuation.

I've called but they just chuckle and say that they are, literally, several years behind at resetting values. How long can it take to do that, it is not very complicated to reset the value to the purchase price.

So, I file appeals too, and those too are years behind. No appeals that I have filed have managed to come up for action yet, and they say not likely for a long time to come.

Meanwhile they are forcing me to loan money to the city due to the higher (and illegal, per prop 13) valuation that they continue to use.

It is annoying. Phil's lost my vote, for sure. I just hope someone runs against him.

Posted by: someone at July 21, 2011 10:12 PM

My assessments for my Glen Park home over the past three years have been like a yo-yo.

1. Down by 20% 2 years ago.
2. Up by 3% last year
3. Up by 10% this year.

I'm planning to appeal this year's assessment. The $60 fee to file seems designed to discourage people from going through the process.

Can anyone share their experiences? Is the formal process similar to the informal one where you identify 3 comparables to justify your case?

Posted by: Willow at July 22, 2011 10:58 AM

18,800 homeowner received a temporary reduction and yet for the second year in a row i filed for a reduction and was denied, despite living in a district with the biggest price drop and despite more than adequate documentation to justify a reduction. I still have not received a hearing from the formal reappraisal hearing i filed for in 2010 and was told that there is a 2 year window for the Assesors to grant hearings and they are currrently still on the 2009 roll. At this point i think there is no real basis for reductions and they simply deny them thinking they will avoid reappraisals in homeowners favors by attrition. Oh well Im about to spend another $60 to get another hearing but at least i know i have all the documentation to justify my requested reduction.

Posted by: Rob at July 23, 2011 11:38 AM

For my condo, purchased in Feb 2007:

Year Notice Received
2007 - $485k (supplemental for purcahse price)
2008 - $495k (requested informal review, denied)
2009 - $504k (requested informal review and asked for reduction to $400k, review granted & reduced to $375k)
2010 - proactively reviewed and remained at $375k
2011 - proactively reviewed and lowered to $370k

Posted by: Rillion at July 25, 2011 10:59 AM

^^^ I know this is a stale thread, but just a followup note. If you've been denied twice, check the type of data that you're submitting because doing more of the same isn't likely to bring a different result. The Assessor's office really does follow unpublished "guidelines" with regards to the temporary reductions. Here's a couple that I've discerned through conversations:
* $/sq ft appears to be largely irrelevant. You won't get anywhere with them using that as your basis for argument.
* Similarly, "fit & finish" is absolutely irrelevant. They don't care how your property's build quality compares.
* Configuration is less important. If you have a smallish 3-bd place you'll get better traction comparing to decent 2-bd properties than other 3-bd that have greater square footage.
* Timing of comparables is critical. They're serious when they say as close to Jan 1 as possible.
* Make sure you're using the same square footage for your property that the Assessor has on file. If you're listed in their records as 1380 square feet because they haven't updated for the downstairs addition the previous owner made, then by gosh you'd better be presenting yourself similarly or your effort will be for naught.

Hope that helps.

Posted by: Average Joe at July 25, 2011 10:59 AM

^^^ I know this is a stale thread, but just a followup note. If you've been denied twice, check the type of data that you're submitting because doing more of the same isn't likely to bring a different result. The Assessor's office really does follow unpublished "guidelines" with regards to the temporary reductions. Here's a couple that I've discerned through conversations:
* $/sq ft appears to be largely irrelevant. You won't get anywhere with them using that as your basis for argument.
* Similarly, "fit & finish" is absolutely irrelevant. They don't care how your property's build quality compares.
* Configuration is less important. If you have a smallish 3-bd place you'll get better traction comparing to decent 2-bd properties than other 3-bd that have greater square footage.
* Timing of comparables is critical. They're serious when they say as close to Jan 1 as possible.
* Make sure you're using the same square footage for your property that the Assessor has on file. If you're listed in their records as 1380 square feet because they haven't updated for the downstairs addition the previous owner made, then by gosh you'd better be presenting yourself similarly or your effort will be for naught.

Hope that helps.

Posted by: Average Joe at July 25, 2011 11:00 AM

Lance, has your property value been reset? I bought in May 2010 and I'm also paying taxes using the prior owner's valuation! Thanks.

Posted by: Nuria at December 10, 2011 10:57 AM

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