Napa County CaliforniaJOHN TUTEUR



EDITORS NOTE: This column from over a year ago has been revised to reflect current market trends.

    Between 1991 and 1997 as real estate prices were slipping in response to a widespread economic recession, the Assessor’s office reduced almost 6,000 properties below their Proposition 13 factored base year values. Since the job of the Assessor is to be fair, not to raise revenue, when market conditions showed that owners’ properties were no longer worth what they paid for them, we enrolled reduced values that reflected depressed market conditions. By the same principle, as properties began recovering their value in a rising market, last year we adjusted some 1100 of those reduced properties back up to, or towards, their Proposition 13 factored base year value.

    Since January 1 1997 we have tracked sales of properties with reduced values since a sale establishes a new Proposition 13 base year value. In 1997 232 reduced-value properties sold. 161 of those properties (69%) sold for more than the reduced value showing an improving market trend; while 71 properties (31%), sold at or below the reduced value indicating that in some areas the recovery had not taken hold. In 1998 there were 415 sales of which 339 (82%) sold above the reduced value while only 79 (18%) showed any further decline at time of sale.

    These recent statistics give us a clear indication of a recovering market in almost all areas. To achieve equity for those properties that have not sold, we are now reviewing the remaining 4986 properties which still have reduced values for possible upward adjustment. Any upward adjustment will be based on the same method we used to adjust values downwards in the previous declining market. Our appraisal staff will look at recent sales in a given neighborhood and make appropriate upward adjustments based on that data.

    While Proposition 13 limits annual inflationary adjustments to base year values to no more than two per cent per year, the law sets no limit on downward or upward adjustments to reflect market conditions once a property is reduced below its base year value. In the declining market we reduced values between 10 and 20 per cent. Last year with the market recovery in its infancy the majority of our upward adjustments were in the 5 to 10 per cent range. This year, as the market recovery accelerates, larger adjustments may be warranted. All owners whose properties were in a reduced value status will receive a value notice card in mid-July showing any adjustment to restore their value towards or back to their Proposition 13 factored base year value. Should you have any questions when you receive that card, please contact Napa County Assessor John Tuteur at 707.253.4459 or by e-mail

Should you have any questions please contact Napa County Assessor-Recorder John Tuteur
at 707.253.4459 or by e-mail


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