Front walls saved for a good reason, they didn't need replacing.

Aarrgh!  I wish I had a dollar for every time we heard someone say “But, if 1 wall is saved the property taxes won’t go up.”  WRONG!  So very, very wrong – maybe 12 years ago this was true but no longer.  Yet, people keep perpetuating this myth. 

In some cities/counties, saving 50% of the walls means the difference between a new house and an addition – which can affect when Planning gets involved (among other things).  That’s about it for the ‘saving a wall’ concept, what we call the 50% rule.

 But the ‘1 wall’ rule was before copies of permits were sent to the County Assessor’s office.  In Santa Clara County, all 15 cities must provide the Assessor with copies of the building permit.  So the Assessor will review the information and decide if a reassessment is warranted.

 For instance, if you are remodeling the inside of your house to squeeze in another bathroom – BANG, that’s adding ‘amenities’ to the structure so you might be reassessed.  If you are only remodeling but the work is extensive, then a reassessment could happen.  It doesn’t depend on adding square footage, but adding value.

 I was holding an Open House and explaining what type of work had been done (we kept the front 2/3 of the existing house exterior) and so many of the attendees would say, nodding their heads knowingly, “‘Of course, you had to keep 1 wall so the house would be reassessed at a lower rate.”   And I’d reply “No, that’s no longer true” and they would look at me sorrowfully like I really wasn’t up on the latest methods to get around taxes.  And there was no changing their minds because their contractor/real estate agent/neighbor told them this so it must be true.  >sigh<    

 We give all potential clients a copy of our local County Assessor’s pamphlet called “New Construction and Property Taxes”.  It explains pretty clearly how the County Assessor’s processes work.

 Don’t just believe what people tell you!  Check things out for yourself.

  And ‘Checking things out’ will be the subject of my next blog…