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Property values showing increase for second year
July 05, 2012, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff

The property’s tax rolls are starting to recoup billions of dollars in assessed value lost during the prior years’ economic spiral but some of the county’s real estate markets are bouncing back less quickly, according to the county Assessor’s Office.

The overall market is headed in a positive direction but assessment changes by location show continuing signs of weakness and "economic stress,” said Mark Church, chief elections officer and assessor-county clerk-recorder.

The 2012-13 property assessment roll increased 3.33 percent, or more than $4.75 billion, over last year, according to figures released by Church.

"Property is a big-ticket item,” Church said in a prepared statement. "As buyer and investor confidence picks up, which we are now experiencing, the real estate market picks up, signifying a turn for the better in the economy and the next assessment roll.”

The uptick is the second year in a row and includes a 5.46 percent increase in the unsecured portion which encompasses value of business and air transportation property at San Francisco International Airport — both signs of improvement in the local business climate.

The nearly $434 million increase over last year’s assessed roll is chalked up in part to increased commercial aviation and concession value at SFO.

"We think we’ve basically hit the bottom and it looks like the market is improving. The hope now is we’ll start seeing better growth,” said Terry Flinn, special assistant to the assessor.

On the other hand, the county’s cities showed sharp contrasts based on locale and the difference between Proposition 13 value and decline-in-value reassessments stand at $8.1 billion. For instance, Atherton posted a 9.05 percent increase while East Palo Alto dropped 2.51 percent. Every other city aside from Brisbane and the unincorporated areas showed positive increases in the combined roll.

Flinn said in contrast to the affluent portions of San Mateo County, the so-called "entry level communities” that were hit by the subprime mortgage problems are sluggish.

The entire roll is $147.26 billion and is the value of all properties as of Jan. 1 each year. Each year’s roll reflects all adjustments from the previous Jan. 1 tally including additions, removals and declines in value.

Nearly 36,000 residential properties were reviewed and 32,477 approved for reassessment which in turn reduced the roll by $385 million. San Mateo and Daly City had the greatest number of parcels decline, 5,037 and 4,215 respectively, and Daly City lost $97.8 million in value.

 Although the total changes mean a $3.8 million loss in taxes, Church’s office called the numbers "a significant improvement” over 2011 when the roll lost more than $1.5 billion because of 35,000 properties that declined in value.

On the commercial end, 604 of the 733 properties reviewed qualified for relief. Some even increased in value which added $22.38 million to the roll.

Foreclosure numbers in 2011 also saw a downturn with 11 percent less notices of default recorded over the previous year’s 3,777 total.

The assessment roll not only paints a picture of the county’s economic conditions but also pencils out how much tax money will go into local coffers. The county, its cities, special districts and schools will share 1 percent of the roll’s increase, or $47.5 million, and the county itself will take 22 percent, or $10.4 million.

Michelle Durand can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.

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