Property taxes based on price paid for your home

Michael Kayem is a Realtor with Re/max Estate Properties Culver City and the Westside since 2001. You can contact Michael with your questions at 310-390-3337 or e-mail them to him at:

Dear Michael: I am reading your previous article about Tittle Insurance. Can you please let me know how a dispute with my neighbor having their neighboring wall on my property will affect the sale of their home? My Tittle Insurance does not list a dispute and there is no easement listed.

Answer: Your neighbors will only have a problem if someone records a lien on the property. The type of lien is called a Lis Pendens (notice of action). This is a recorded document that will show a lawsuit against the neighbor. A Lis Pendens is a written notice that a lawsuit has been filed concerning real estate, involving either the title to the property or a claimed ownership interest in it. The notice is usually filed in the county records office. Recording a Lis Pendens against a piece of property alerts a potential purchaser or lender that the property’s title is in question, which makes the property less attractive to a buyer or lender. After the notice is filed, anyone who nevertheless purchases the land or property described in the notice takes subject to the ultimate decision of the lawsuit. Please contact a real estate attorney for further evaluation.

Dear Michael: How come I’m paying more in property taxes than some of my neighbors who have similar houses?

Answer: Your taxes are not based on your neighbors assessed value, but are based on the price you voluntarily agreed to pay when you purchased your home. Before Proposition 13 (officially named the People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation) was an amendment of the Constitution of California enacted during 1978, by means of the initiative process. It was approved by California voters on June 6, 1978. At the time the average property tax rate in California was three percent of assessed value and there was no limit on annual increases. In those days, if a house on your block sold for much more than you paid for your house, you trembled in fear when you received your next property tax bill. Chances are, your new tax bill would have been based on what your new neighbor was willing to pay for his/her home. Things got so bad in the late 1970s that people were actually losing their homes because of uncontrolled tax increases. Due to Prop 13 the assessment rate in California is now 1.00-1.25 percent and annual tax increases are limited to no more than 2.00 percent. When real property is sold it is then reassessed at market value, but the rate remains at 1.00 percent and the new owner is then protected by the two percent cap on annual increases. The property may be reassessed under certain conditions such as a change of ownership, additions or when new construction occurs.

Dear Michael:  My girlfriend and I recently purchased a house together. Six months later she decided she wants out. Friends have recommended a “quit claim deed” as a resolution. Will this work or is there is a better solution?

Answer: A Quit claim Deed is a legal instrument by which the owner of a piece of real property, called the grantor,transfers his interest to a recipient, called the grantee. The owner/grantor terminates “quits” his right and claim to the property, thereby allowing claim to transfer to the recipient/grantee. In your case, your girlfriend can quit claim her interest in the property to you. However, if she quitclaims the house to you, it does not relieve her of her responsibility to the mortgage. If she quit claims her interest it can place her in a very complicated position. She will owe on the mortgage note (and have her credit tied up with it), but not own any interest in the property. She will lose any and all leverage.  If you should default on the mortgage payments her credit will also be affected. If you can you afford to refinance the mortgage in your name only. This is the only way you can get her name off of the loan. If not, then she is going to have to live with the consequences of her poor decision to buy this house without having thought through the long-term ramifications of that decision. Please contact a real estate attorney about your options and how to proceed.

Michael Kayem is a Realtor with Re/max estate Properties serving Culver City and the Westside since 2001. You can contact Michael with your questions at 310-390-3337 or e-mail them to him at: