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San Bernardino County Home Reductions

One of our clients purchased a handful of foreclosed homes in San Bernardino County. The County Assessor's office is charged with ascribing a value to the property upon change of ownership, that is indicative of fair market value at that time. When dealing with foreclosures, we see that many times the Assessor's office places a higher value than the purchase price and taxes the owner based on that higher value. This is due to the County believing that the price paid was not in fact fair market value as it was not a typical "arms length" transaction. However, it is our view, and most other people would agree, that the price paid at auction is in fact the fair market value as anyone had the opportunity to purchase the property for that amount, or higher - it's an auction after all!
The subject properties in question were purchased for $57,000 to $71,500 (there were four homes in this batch). The Assessor's office placed assessments at $74,000 to $130,000. Through our appeals (applications for changed assessment) and discussions and evidence, we were able to reduce the values back to the purchase prices.

Now, as a side note and some food for thought: the County of San Bernardino charges property owners to file an appeal to challenge the value. This is a growing trend around the State of California; something we at CAPTA find to be almost criminal. The fee in San Bernardino County is $45.00 and is NON REFUNDABLE. In the case above, one of our client's property was assessed at $74,000 (incorrectly as we were able to prove), equating to taxes paid yearly of approximately $814. To file an appeal, we paid $45. The reduction we achieved, back to the purchase price of the property - $57,000, saved our client approximately $187 for the year. Therefore, our client lost almost 25% of that savings to pay the application fee (actually, CAPTA paid the fee but this an argument of principal for property owners in the County).
So, the County is erroneous in placing an assessed value on a property upon change of ownership; through absolutely no fault of the property owner. Then the property owner has to pay a fee to make the County correct it (not to mention the time it takes to file the appeal, talk with the County, and if that doesn't achieve results attend a board hearing). And that fee equates to 25% of the money the County over charged the property owner in the first place. Does something sound wrong to you???