Will increased values for California's assessed properties be a good or bad thing for homeowners?

  • Bad. We don't need more property taxes. (92%, 79 Votes)
  • Good. Local governments are in need of revenue. (8%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 86

The total value of state and county-assessed properties increased by 0.3%, putting California’s total value for the 2011-2012 season at $4.4 trillion – $11.6 billion more than one year ago and the first annual gain in three years.

State-assessed properties, which primarily include privately-owned public utilities and railroads, increased 8% ($6.3 billion) and amounted to an $85.3 billion total. The value of county-assessed properties also experienced gain, though marginal. County-assessed properties increased 0.1% ($5.3 billion), totaling $4.3 trillion. [For more information on California’s 2011-2012 assessed property values, see the California State Board of Equalization (SBOE) news release, Jerome E. Horton Announces Increase in Property Values Statewide.]

Disparity between state and county gains can be accounted for by the 38 counties which experienced a decline in assessment values, as opposed to the 20 counties which saw a bump in values. While values in places like Colusa County soared 19.5% in the last year (due to the construction of a new power plant in the county), inland regions such as Plumas County dropped 5.3% – seesaw figures which yet again remind us of the diversity in California real estate.

first tuesday take: The SBOE headlined California’s 0.3% bump in assessed property values, but for California homeowners, this story is really more of a mixed message than it is a definitive cause for celebration.

First off, the bump in property values is actually good news for California. It means a larger tax roll which means more revenue for local government services and improvements (say hello to a possible uptick in local government jobs, manicured sidewalks and pothole-free streets.) [For more information on the implications of lower assessed property values for local communities, see the August 2010 first tuesday article, Total assessed values, and taxes, drop in many counties.]

However, as the range of statistics show, this is not the case for everyone. The state will benefit in some way from the increased revenue, no question. But it’s the individual counties which experienced declines in assessed property values that will feel the cut to their local community services and infrastructure maintenance.

Despite the less-than-colorful indicators of the 0.3% bump, California brokers and agents in counties with assessed property value losses have an opportunity here to get the market moving by:

  • explaining to prospective buyers that the time to buy is now since not only are prices and interest rates low, but property taxes will be truncated as well [For more information on the potential effects of lower property taxes, see the August 2011 first tuesday article, The property tax blues.]; and
  • helping current homeowners reduce their property taxes to their property’s newly-adjusted and lowered assessed value (thus allowing brokers to secure relationships with potential clients who could become potential buyers and sellers in the future). [For more information on how brokers and agents can help homeowners reduce their property taxes, see the September 2010 first tuesday FARM letter, How to lower your property taxes in a market of declining property values.]

RE: “State sees first bump in property assessments in three years” from the San Diego Union-Tribune