Real Property FAQs

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Change in Ownership

Can two otherwise qualified taxpayers who have recently sold their separately owned original properties combine their claim for Proposition 60/90 benefit when they buy a single replacement dwelling together? 

No. They can only receive benefit if one or the other, not both, qualifies by comparing his/her original property to the jointly purchased replacement dwelling. The implementing legislation specifically disallows combining a claim in this manner regardless of whether the replacement dwelling co-owners are married or not.

For the transfer to be effective under Proposition 90, the transfer must be a participating county. Currently, those counties are Alameda, El Dorado, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino, San Diego, Santa Clara, Toulumne and Ventura.
 

When making the “equal or lesser value” test comparison, is a simple comparison of the sales price of the original property and the purchase price/cost of new construction of the replacement all that is needed?

No. The comparison must be made using the full market value of the original property as compared to the full market value of the replacement dwelling as of its date of purchase or completion of new construction. This is important because sales or purchase price is not always the same as market value. The assessor must determine the market value of each property, which may differ from sales price.
 

If the full cash value of my replacement dwelling slightly exceeds the “equal or lesser value” as compared to the full market value of my original property, can I still benefit? 

Yes. If an original property was sold the same day or was sold before purchasing the replacement dwelling. 105% of the market value of original property as of its date of sale within one year & 110% of the market value of original property as of its date of sale within two years.
 

My parents died & the children inherited the property. Why are we receiving a notice of possible reassessment?

Death is a transfer of the decedent’s interest upon the date of death to the heirs. If the heirs or beneficiaries are children, they must submit the Claim For Reassessment Exclusion for Transfer Between Parents & Child form to avoid a reassessment. If the claim form is not submitted in a timely manner, the property will be reassessed.
 

But we sold the property. Do we still need to submit the claim form?

Yes. The possible reassessment covers the time period between the date of death & the date of sale. Without the claim form, that time period will be reassessed & a supplemental bill sent. Upon selling the property to a third party, the children only have 6 months from the notice date of a supplemental or escape notice to submit the claim form. Please make certain that the San Mateo County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder’s Office, Assessor Division has the correct address for the executor/successor trustee or other responsible party for the estate.

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Mapping

What are my property boundaries?

Your property boundaries are delineated within your grant deed, or your deed refers to a legally recorded subdivision or parcel map which has the legal boundaries delineated on them.

I think the fence that is between me and my neighbor is in the wrong location. How do I know?

The only way to know if the fence is in the wrong location is to have a professional licensed surveyor survey the property boundaries. You may find a licensed surveyor at the California Land Surveyors Association website: https://www.californiasurveyors.org/findasurv.asp

If you have a disagreement/dispute with your neighbor over the placement of a fence, this is a private civil matter. The San Mateo County Assessor has no jurisdiction over these issues.

I want to subdivide my property. What do I need to do?

This answer varies on an individual basis, but usually these are land use questions and need to be reviewed by the planning and building department of the jurisdiction where the property resides.

How can I obtain an Assessor’s map of my property? 

Hard copies of Assessor’s maps are available in our office at 555 County Center, Redwood City, CA. Digital maps are available here.

How do I find out easements on my property?

An easement can be referenced in recorded subdivision maps, parcel maps, or in the legal descriptions of a recorded deed.  Documents creating easements can be recorded separately from or after the original deed is recorded.  Often the easiest way to locate an easement is by obtaining a preliminary title report from a title company.

What is the zoning of my property?

The San Mateo County Assessor does not show zoning on the Assessor’s maps. If your property is in the city/town limits, please contact the city/town planning department. If your property is located within the unincorporated area in the San Mateo County, please contact the San Mateo County Planning and Building Department.

How can I change the situs address of my property?

Regarding changing your situs address, please contact the planning and building department of the jurisdiction where the property is located. San Mateo County Assessor Division only change the situs addresses per notifications from planning and building departments. If you need to change your mailing address, please click here.

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Real Estate

Can I lower my Property Taxes? 

If you disagree with the Assessor’s value, you should first discuss your concern with the San Mateo County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder’s Office, Assessor Division.

If the Assessor Division does not resolve the matter to your satisfaction, you will still have the right to file an appeal with the Assessment Appeals Board

Will I be reassessed if I remodel my kitchen or bathroom?

This is determined on a case-by-case basis. If the kitchen or bathroom is determined to be the equivalent of a new kitchen or bathroom, it can be considered newly constructed; therefore, it is assessable. If, however, the work is considered remodeling (like-for-like replacement) or maintenance, it would not qualify as new construction; thus, it is not assessable.

According to the State Board of Equalization, the following may be considered new construction:

Bathroom – the addition of one, or structural changes, upgrading of plumbing and/or electrical systems, changing the floor plan, increasing the size, replacing cabinets, countertops, flooring or fixtures with upgraded materials and finishes.

Kitchen – structural changes, upgrading of plumbing and/or electrical systems, changing the floor plan, increasing the size, replacing cabinets, countertops, flooring or built-in appliances with upgraded materials and finishes.
 

How will an addition to my home affect my assessment?  How are additions assessed?

An addition is considered new construction, which the county may reassess.  The fair market value of the addition will be added to the existing improvement value of the house.

Will I be reassessed if I add a bathroom, room or loft within existing space?

If you add a bathroom, room or loft within existing space it is considered a change in use which is reassessable.

Will I be reassessed if I tear down most of the house, but leave a corner or wall standing?

Tearing down most of the house but leaving a corner or wall standing and rebuilding the house would be considered the equivalent of new construction which is reassessable.

Why is my assessment so much higher than my neighbor’s even though we have the same model house.

The assessed value is based on the fair market value of the house on its purchase date.  Therefore, even though two houses are exactly the same, it may have a different value depending on when it was purchased.

For what use is my property zoned?  How come it is different on the City records?

Zoning is determined by planning department of the municipality in which the property is located.  Please contact your local planning department.

I want to see the data on my property, what do I need to do.

You may see the data for your property at 

San Mateo County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder’s Office, Assessor Division
555 County Center, 1st Floor
Redwood City

How many departments does it take to make up the tax bill and what do they do?

The Assessor reports the assessed value of a property. The Controller determines the amount of taxes to be collected from each property, distributes the revenues to each taxing jurisdiction and maintains the tax rolls. The Tax Collector bill and collects the taxes due on each property.

How do I get more details on Institutional and Veteran’s Organization Exemptions and how do I apply for an exemption?

Certain properties may be eligible for an exemption if they have a qualifying use.  Please visit here or contact the Exemptions Unit at 650.363.4500.

What is excluded from reappraisal?

Certain changes of ownership may be excluded from reappraisal such as parent-child transfers, grandparent-grandchild transfers and transfer of base year value for 55 and older.  Please visit here for information on exclusions or contact the Transfer Unit at 650.363.4500.

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Mobile Homes

Are Mobile homes subject to property taxes?

Newly purchased mobile homes, and those on permanent foundations, are subject to property taxes. As with real property, the assessed value of mobile homes cannot be increased by more than 2% annually unless there is a change in ownership or new construction. Older mobile homes bought before June 30, 1980 generally are not subject to property taxes. They are licensed under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Housing and Community Development.

My mobile home is sitting on a permanent foundation on my property, how will it be taxed?

For purposes of taxation, mobile homes affixed to the land on a permanent foundation are not considered mobile homes, but are viewed instead as modular housing, and have always been taxed in the same way as conventional homes.

If I buy a used mobile home subject to local property taxes, how do I get the title transferred to my name?

Mobile home title issuance is administered by the State’s Department of Housing and Community Development. That department cannot transfer title of a used mobile home subject to local property taxes without a tax clearance from the County Tax Collector of the county in which the mobile home is situated. If there are any taxes owing, they must be paid before a Tax Clearance Certificate can be issued.

Note:  This type of title transfer applies only to mobile homes not on permanent foundations.  If your mobile home is attached to a permanent foundation, title transfers are handled by the County Recorder in the same manner as for conventional homes.

How do you change the ownership of a mobile home into the name of a trust?

Contact the California Department of Housing and Community Development to change the ownership of a mobile home into the name of a trust.   

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Property Tax Bills and Refunds

How much are my taxes for the current year? 

The amount of taxes due for the current year can be found on the Treasurer/Tax Collector’s web site  or contact the Tax Collector’s Office at 650.363.4142.

I didn’t pay my taxes last year, where can I find out how much I owe? 

The amount of delinquent taxes due can be found on the Treasurer/Tax Collector’s web site or contact the Tax Collector’s Office at 650.363.4142.

Why do I have two supplemental tax bills?

State law requires the Assessor to reappraise property upon change in ownership or completion of new construction. The supplemental assessment reflects the difference between the new value and the old value.  If the change in ownership or completion of construction occurs between January 1 and May 31, there will be two supplemental tax bills.

The first supplemental is for the remainder of the fiscal year and the second bill is for the fiscal year that follows.

Can I pay my taxes with a credit card?

The Treasurer and Tax Collector’s Office accepts credit card payments by telephone and online. For more information, please visit the San Mateo County Tax Collector’s website.

To what address do I mail my tax payment? 

Tax payments are mailed to the:

San Mateo County Tax Collector
555 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063

For more information, please visit the San Mateo County Tax Collector’s web site.

Where can I make my tax payment in person?

Tax payments may be paid in person to the:

San Mateo County Treasurer and Tax Collector 
555 County Center, First Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063

What should I do if I do not have a secured property tax bill?

The Treasurer/Tax Collector prepares and mails original tax bills and can provide you with a replacement tax bill.

I received a refund, can you tell me what this refund is for?

To inquire about your refund, please contact the Office of the Controller, 650.363.4777.

Please be prepared to tell them specific information such as your name, property address and, if possible, the Assessor’s Parcel Number.

What is the Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program? 

The Homeowner and Renter Assistance program was administered by the State Franchise Tax Board for elderly, blind or disabled taxpayers. It was suspended indefinitely as of 2009.

What is the Property Tax Postponement Program? 

The Property Tax Postponement Program allows eligible homeowners to postpone payment of property taxes on their principal place of residence.

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Location, Hours and Service

Where are you located and your hours of operation?

The San Mateo County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder’s Office, Assessor Division is located at

555 County Center
Redwood City

Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding holidays.

For a map and directions to our office, click here.

Where do I park?

The county has a parking garage with metered parking and there is metered street parking.

Click here for parking fee information.