Can you explain property taxes?

April 13, 2020
Property taxes are 1% from the state plus local ad ons from bonds + Mello roos which is another local thing.  In SF they are about 1.14% of value every year and it can fluctuate based on city investments (bond yields) to be as much as 1.18% or as little as 1.12%.  Property taxes can go up as much as 2% per year on the assessed value based on the 1978 Jarvis Gann initiative known as Prop 13, also called rent control for home owners.  
 
They are due in 2 installments, late December 10 and April 10, after which there is a 10% penalty.  The installments cover July 1 to December 31 (paid December 10) and January 1 to June 30 (paid April 10).
 
When you buy a new property you pay at the old rate until the county catches up with you and sends a supplemental tax bill to make up the difference from your date of purchase.
 
I want to mention that depending on what time of year you closed, you may or may not get the first property tax bill.  Especially if you close in the fall, the first bill may have already gone to the old owners and you will want to check the assessor’s website in time to pay without a penalty.  Property taxes are late December 10 and April 10 and the penalty is 10% if you are past that date.  Bills are mailed in October, so you can see why if you close, for example, November 15, you might not get the bill for the payment that will be late April 10 of the next year.
 

City/County of San Francisco – https://sftreasurer.org/payments/property-tax-payment
Marin County – https://apps.marincounty.org/TaxBillOnline
Sonoma County – https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/ACTTC/Revenue-Accounting/Property-Tax-Payments
Alameda County – https://acgov.org/propertytax/online.htm
Santa Clara County – https://payments.sccgov.org/propertytax
San Mateo County – https://tax.smcgov.org

Important to note: Some of you probably already pay your property taxes through impounds in your mortgage payments. If that is the case, your lender already has this covered! But it is always a good idea to double check that the bill has been paid.