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Property tax relief coming for some
SJ assessor mailing out adjusted values in July
This house at 519 Pestana Avenue is one of 171 resale homes available currently available in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon. The foreclosure has 3,156 square feet with five bedrooms and four bathrooms with a listing price of $234,900 through Reeves Realty. - photo by DENNIS WYATT
If you bought a home in the past five years you will want to read this.

Next month the odds are great some tax relief is coming your way from the San Joaquin County Assessor’s Office. That’s when state law requires them to reassess property values based on the home’s value on Jan. 1, 2009. Even though property values have declined further since then, by law that is the assessment date.

You should be getting a notice from the assessor in the coming weeks. If you disagree with the assessment you have until Nov. 30, 2009 to appeal (Go to for more information).

It is important to remember most other homeowners – especially those who have been in their homes 10 years or more – have their values capped under Proposition 13. That means they are still paying less than if the house was taxed on its current value.

How big of a thing is it to check out values on Jan. 1, 2009 in your neighborhood and make sure that you are assessed properly?

For me, it could save me $626 a year in property taxes if I’ve done the calculation rights.

I’ve tracked transactions for the last three months of 2008 in the Powers Tract neighborhood that are within two blocks of my house. They range in size from 820 square feet to 1,099 square feet with five being three bedroom, two bathroom floor plans and two as a three bedroom, one bathroom layout. Mine is 990 square feet with two bedrooms and one bathroom The selling prices range for a high of $189,900 (mine which I bought in March of 2008) to $90,000.

Average those out and the value is at $122,842. It isn’t that simple or 100 percent accurate but it gives you the ballpark that the assessor should be looking at when they do their reassessment.

Mine is a bit more problematic as I have the only two bedrooms with one bathroom in the area that changed hands. Smaller homes tend to have a higher per square foot value. Comparing it with other two bedrooms, one bathroom in Manteca that were built in the 1950s and are of similar size I paid the highest – I still think I got a great deal though because the house is for all practical purposes what I wanted and in the right neighborhood for me – while the lowest was $70,000.

If my reassessment doesn’t come in the neighborhood of $130,000 – which translates into a $590 a year savings in property taxes – I will appeal complete with a list of comparables with square footage, selling price, and location. How I get to $626 a year in savings is simple. Wells Fargo – lender with my mortgage – is required by law to make sure that there is adequate funding in the escrow account to pay property taxes. They assumed a 2 percent increase for next year – the highest allowed under Proposition 13 and adjusted my payments accordingly.

Once the new assessment is in, they will have my payment including by the 2 percent growth that didn’t occur.

Some might argue I could make a case for even a lower assessment. Not knowing the perimeters the assessor employs  in determining values whether it is citywide or by neighborhood, I’m comfortable hanging on to the solid numbers of homes that closed escrow nearby.

If you don’t get a property tax reassessment by the end of July, contact the assessor.

It could be more than worth the effort.