Is your property tax assessment too high?

In the 4th quarter of 2022, Santa Clara County home prices bottomed out after 6 months of interest rate hikes and sliding home values. The property tax assessment for many home owners on January 1st from the county tax assessor’s office may have been higher than market value for that day, depending on which comparable sales or comps that office used.

If your property tax assessment for this year came in a little higher than market value, you may be able to appeal that assessment.


Property tax assessment bill - the annual county tax assessor's office will issue the valuation to home owners on this card each September or October


Appealing the property tax assessment


The county tax assessor’s office uses comparable sold properties, or comps, just like you or I would do, to try to determine the current market value of your home.  The comps used may or may not be the best or most realistic – they could be too dissimilar in size, location, or amenities, for instance.

If they aren’t good, you may be able to get your home’s assessed value, and hence the bill, reconsidered if you present better data and explain why your data is more accurate.

No one wants to see their property values depressed, but if it does happen, there may be a small silver lining: getting slightly lower property taxes, at least for a while.


How to appeal your property tax assessment

START HERE TO APPLY – you will find the prerequisites, the instructions, and the login to begin. (Have your comps ready!)

Information on appealing can be found on the county tax assessor’s office website.  This page has links and information on the process and procedures of appealing the valuation.

The appeal application form can be found here:  Assessment Appeal Application form

The folks in charge of the property tax assessment and appeal process, the review, and the hearing are:

Assessment Appeals Division
70 West Hedding Street
East Wing, 10th Floor
San Jose, CA 95110
Phone: (408) 299-5088
Fax: (408) 298-8460

It’s actually very straightforward to appeal your property tax assessment: you simply complete the form and submit it online together with PDFs of your comparable sales to provide support for the lower valuation. The application form states at the end: “The request must contain the basis of your opinion of value. Please include comparable sales, cost, and income data where appropriate to support the value.”

Measure E Transfer Tax in San Jose

Luxury Tax Measure E Transfer TaxAs of July 1, 2020, the Measure E transfer tax in San Jose kicked in. What’s involved, and who pays?

Homes sold for more than $2 million in San Jose now are billed an additional transfer tax, depending on the price point. San Jose already has a city transfer tax, which is $3.30 per thousand, which customarily is split 50/50 between buyer and seller. The new Measure E fee is on top of that amount.

The new Measure E transfer or conveyance tax is progressive, with higher values paying a steeper tax. There are not many homes in San Jose selling for over $10 million, but perhaps they wrote this in planning for future inflation of real estate sale prices. (Please keep in mind that right now the average house in San Jose is selling for about $1,850,000, so it may not be long before a $2 million  house represents just something ordinary and not a luxury home.)

• $7.50 per $1,000 of transfer value on properties priced between $2 million and $5 million
• $10 per $1,000 of transfer value on properties priced between $5 million and $10 million
• $15 per $1,000 of transfer value on properties priced at $10 million and above.

For example, let’s see how those dollars play out in real life. This morning I ran the numbers (pulled from the Old Republic Title website, which anyone can use – see the page for net sheets). Please note that traditionally the seller pays the county transfer tax here, and the city transfer tax is split 50 / 50 between the buyer and the seller. This is not fixed by law and can be negotiated. The chart below displays who pays how much if it were handled the common way here today.

Meaure E - San Jose real property transfer tax

Who pays the new Measure E transfer tax?