In California, there are primarily two triggers for re-assessment: change in ownership and new construction. A change in ownership this is when a deed or deeds are filed at the county Recorder’s Office, the Recorder’s Office will forward the deeds to the Assessor’s Office for assessment purposes. The Assessor’s Office will then review the change in ownership to determine if it is a re-assessable. If it isn’t re-assessable then the process stops there, however if it is an assessable transfer it is forwarded to the appropriate personnel to determine or review a market value and adjust the base value accordingly. A change in ownership that would not be assessable would need to fall within one of the various exemptions allowed by the State such as the transfer into a revocable trust or an inter-spousal transfer which are all explained in our Inherited Property and Exemptions Guide as part of the California Little Black Book. When a transfer is exempt the ONLY way the Assessor knows this are through forms and applications which are recorded along with the deed or later requested by the Assessor’s Office to confirm an exempt transfer. So when there is no exemption, the transfer is considered assessable per Prop 13. Which means if you do not apply, submit a form or offer accepted documentation for an exemption, the transfer is considered assessable automatically. The Assessor is a mass appraisal organization and unless you tell them what you need preferably through forms and documents they won’t know what may or may not apply to your situation.
The second trigger for re-assessment in California is new construction where the Assessor is notified from a completely different source. The cities and county building and safety departments send information issued permits to the Assessor for assessment purposes. So when you apply for construction permits with your city or county even if you don’t end up building, which happens often, the permits are automatically forwarded to the Assessor. The permits then get forwarded to the appraisers for several reasons: for a building record update and a valuation change if one applies. Generally, it takes the Assessor some time to process these because often field work is required to find out what construction was done and then the valuation procedure follows. The Assessor has to collect the construction data independently. If there is a demolition the taxable value will most likely be reduced and if there is an addition the taxable base value will likely go up. For example if you demolish a pool your property taxes will go down. If you add a pool your property taxes will go up. However, new construction varies from property to property and it will be evaluated based on the value that was created or taken away. This is detailed in the California Little Black Book with examples and various scenarios. I assessed countless homes where various types of construction was taking place and would be happy to answer any questions you may have pertaining to this!
Similar to new construction there will also be re-assessment of a property if the use of it has changed, for example if a complex of own-your-owns is converted into condominiums the assessor will review and reassess the value of each unit since the use change affects the market value of the property. Generally speaking though there are two events for re-assessment: change in ownership or new construction.