Where and how can seniors transfer their property tax basis within California?

Proposition 13 keeps residential real estate taxes from skyrocketing when you’ve lived in the home a long time and haven’t done major additions or huge remodeling all at once (those would cause a re-appraisal). For people who’ve owned their home for 30 years or more, the property taxes might be a tenth as much as what new buyers on the same street pay (for the same sized home and lot). Those lower than market rate property tax bills are part of the reason why many seniors are disinterested in selling and moving. Under Prop 60 and Prop 90, though, there’s a one-time possibility of moving and taking that low property tax basis along. Today we’ll look at that.

Proposition 60 and Proposition 90 are similar. There’s a great deal of Prop 60 / 90 information on the website of the California State Board of Equalization. Prop 60 allows the over 55 home owner to transfer the property tax basis (with some caveats) within that same county. Prop 90 allows the same transfer from one county to the next – but few are now participating and it seems to be an ever-shrinking list (so best to triple check before selling the home and counting on the transfer to still be allowed).

In addition to the age requirement of 55+, the replacement property must be of equal or lesser value and must be purchased within 2 years of the sale of the first property.

Per the Santa Clara County Tax Assessor’s office, “Proposition 90 allows homeowners 55 years of age or older to transfer the base year value of their principal residence in one county to a newly purchased or constructed replacement residence in another county. Only a limited number of counties participate in Proposition 90.”

Here are the listed counties which participate in Prop 90:

APPROVED COUNTIES EFFECTIVE DATE
Alameda November 9, 1988
El Dorado February 15, 2010
Los Angeles November 9, 1988
Orange November 9, 1988
Riverside September 19, 2013
San Bernardino October 7, 2014
San Diego November 9, 1988
San Mateo November 9, 1988
Santa Clara November 9, 1988
Ventura May 4, 1992

 

If you have owned a home in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno or nearby for decades, are over 55 and haven’t used this one-time transfer opportunity, you might want to consider downsizing in such a way that your lower tax bill can go with you. Moving from a high end area to a lower cost one is a popular option for many Silicon Valley residents who take the cash out of their sale and put the proceeds (or what isn’t taxed for capital gains) into their retirement fund. I’ve seen clients move from the west valley areas to places such as the Santa Cruz Mountains (prop 60), Livermore (in Alameda County, prop 90), or to further destinations.

 

Related Reading:

Is your property tax assessment too high?

What are supplemental taxes?

When a parent, spouse or loved one dies b what do you need to know or do about the house?

What’s It Like to Live in Los Gatos?

Los Gatos - aerial view from over Lexington Reservoir
Los Gatos – aerial view from over Lexington Reservoir

What’s it like to live in Los Gatos?  The answer to that depends on who you are, where you live, and what you love to do.  Generally speaking, people who live in Los Gatos have a sense of belonging both to this great town and also to nearby areas such as San Jose & the greater Silicon Valley or “South Bay” communities or the mountain communities if they are in the hills over town in places like Redwood Estates, Chemeketa Park, etc.  The town is very much self-contained, but not insular.

At the core, Los Gatos is a scenic, historic, vibrant community with great affection for culture, entertainment, parks and schools. In many ways, it feels a bit European.  Los Gatos has an artistic flare.  It is not “sleepy”. The town gets 300 sunny days a year and the townsfolk love to be outdoors.  There’s a lot of community involvement and volunteerism.  If you want to help out, there are loads of ways you can do that and get to know your neighbors.

The town enjoys two main commercial areas: the historic downtown area of Los Gatos (Main Street, University Avenue, North Santa Cruz and Los Gatos-Saratoga Road area) and The Boulevard (Los Gatos Blvd, which is what Main Street turns into as it heads north past Blossom Hill Road and Los Gatos Almaden Road).  If you live here, the odds are that you’ll have occassion to visit both fairly often. We’re a place which values history but also embraces high tech.  Netflix calls Los Gatos home, and so does Cryptic Studios (video game company).  There are plenty of grocery stores, including Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Nob Hill and Lunardi’s, plus several small corner markets too. The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce provides a fabulous community calendar and runs several excellent events during the year, including horse drawn carriage rides during the holidays.

Residential areas span the town’s 10 square miles with some charming historic homes in historic districts, but most properties do not have 100+ year old houses. Most neighborhoods are tidy and fairly scenic. The town has some modest condominiums and townhomes as well as smaller single family homes and ranges up to large luxury estates with huge acreage or spectacular views.  Prices run from under $1 to about $5,000,000 for most houses, but once in awhile we find more expensive properties, and as of this writing there have only been 2 over $10 million.

Los Gatos holiday parade
Los Gatos holiday parade

We know how to have fun as a community and enjoy events year round.  In summer, Los Gatos comes together to appreciate 3 free musical concert series, , Fiesta de Artes, and so much more. September brings us Screen on the Green. In winter there are holiday happenings with the light festival at Vasona Park, a tree-lighting ceremony the first Friday in December and a huge holiday parade the next day. Year-round, visiting the Farmer’s Market is as much fun as it is serious shopping (every Sunday morning in front of the post office).

Need some down time? Los Gatos can help you there, as well, as we are brimming with salons and places for pampering and massage.  Or shop yourself happy at our many many stores.  Love expensive cars?We’ve got that too.  We have restaurants ranging world class dining to 50s style hot dog and hambuger joints and everything in between.  We have wine bars and tasting rooms – right in town but also in the Santa Cruz Mountains and neighboring San Jose and Saratoga.   Los Gatos is a wonderful place to spend a quiet weekend for R & R.

Just want to be somewhere that looks unique?  We understand.  So often, you go to Anytown USA and it looks just like everywhere else (especially when you shop).  First, our town, once called the Gem City, is snuggled into the Santa Cruz Mountains – so there’s a gorgeous backdrop.  Second, we care about preserving our historic features, so you will find classic architecture of several kinds in homes and commercial buildings both.  Our scenery is both natural and architectural!

No shortage of cultural things to do in town either. In addition to the music and art & wine festival, we also have two museums combined into one, the NuMu (New Museum) – one for art, one for history.  And maybe the brightest star in the sky for culture right now is our newest project: a great new library for which was recently completed. (The library and history museum have a fantastic project on Los Gatos history, too.)  If you cross the pedestrian bridge between Forbes Mill and Old Town, you’ll find that kids have been encouraged to get artistic (they have painted the walls along that bridge).  Beautiful, professional murals can be found throughout the town.

 

Los Gatos High School, facing Main Street
Los Gatos High School, facing Main Street

The public schools are a very big priority for many people in Los Gatos. The town and the Los Gatos Mountain areas have a few different school districts, with scores ranging from good to great.  There are no bad schools in Los Gatos.  Parents are very involved and care about their kids’ success.  Not every child is in public schools, though: interestingly, about 1/3 of the children in Los Gatos attend private schools either here in town or in a neighboring community.

Los Gatos is a very “fit” place overall – if you like to hike, bike, jog, walk, swim you’ll have ample opportunities, alone or in groups.  Parks & Rec is also vibrant in Los Gatos.  There aren’t many communities where you can have your kids attend a camp and learn to sail, but you can do that here!  There are all kinds of community classes and camps.  Additionally, the town includes many private businesses for fitness (swimming, tennis, weights, yoga, pilates, classes, and more) and the gorgeous Los Gatos Creek Trail beckons.  Horseback riding can be found too – all within Los Gatos. Whether you want to find a personal trainer, work out at the fabulous new JCC complex, sail at Vasona or walk in Belgatos Park or along the creek trail, there are almost infinite options for exercise here, many of those options in scenic places.

Spirituality and religion are also a part of life in Los Gatos for many residents.  The town is home to many faith communities (about a half dozen of which do interfaith activities each Thanksgiving and sometimes more often than that). Many of them have outreach to the community with assistance for the homeless, bereaved, jobless, and many other needs.

Los Gatos is very kid friendly, very seniors friendly, and very dog friendly.  The first two might not surprise you as we have so many events and in many places it’s a “walkable” town which has amazingly good weather.

Kids and Los Gatos

The parks, schools, and myriad of free and low-cost events make Los Gatos a fabulous place for young people. The big town in Silicon Valley, San Jose, was recently named as one of the top 100 cities (ranking # 39 – Fremont, btw, was # 5) in the country to raise kids.

Dogs in the Town of Cats

The dog thing surprises many since the town is Los Gatos, meaning The Cats, and you will see cat logos every
where.  But visit downtown and you’ll find an awful lot of shops and restaurants have places for dogs to be tethered or watered.  At Halloween there’s always a pet parade which benefits the Los Gatos – Monte Sereno Police K9 unit.  And Los Gatos shares a dog park with our neighboring city of Campbell.

Seniors in Los Gatos

Housing:  There are a couple of condo complexes in town which are specifically for seniors.  They are more affordable than “regular” housing.  One is on West Parr Avenue and the other off Alberto Way (The Commons of Los Gatos).

Additionally, there are other types of senior housing too, including independent living (rental), assisted living and nursing. (I wrote a lenghy post on downsizing and retiring in Los Gatos which you might find helpful.)

Entertainment:  Los Gatos has a very active Seniors Center and our Parks & Rec Center features many offerings at low cost too. Many restaurants in town offer special pricing for early bird or senior suppers, so there are plenty of excuses to get out!  If you visit Oak Meadow Park on a Saturday morning, you may be able to watch some older gentleman playing a little Bocce Ball.  They are regular fixtures there!

What are the people like in Los Gatos?

Old and young, area (Silicon Valley) natives, replanted Americans and immigrants all make this place home.  (Many of the newcomers are in high tech, just like the rest of the valley.) Demographics sites like can give you the breakdown by zip code on income, education, etc., but because this is a pricey area, it does tend to attract those who are very well educated and who have professional jobs. Please just google that to find the most current demographics site – my old favorite, ZipSkinny.com, has disappeared.

Some of the well-to-do in town can be identified as such by their cars, clothes and jewelry, but just as often, it’s more like “the millionaire next door”.  Some of the best paid (or best at saving) don’t drive the newest luxury vehicle or wear the biggest diamonds.  So don’t be fooled – the guy in the Honda minivan or the woman in the old Toyota may just be anti-status symbol. (And it can run the other way too: some of those with expensive vehicles, clothes or jewelry may put all their eggs into the appearances basket.)

Several famous people have chosen to make Los Gatos their home. They blend in just like everyone else. You may bump into them at Whole Foods, FedEx Office, the car wash, a community event, the Chocolate Dream Box or anywhere in town.  I’m not going to list them here – most probably prefer to be left alone unless contacted through their websites, and I’m happy to not contribute to their being hounded by star crazy people.   (Los Gatos has been home to many other famous people, and had famous visitors too, in the past.)

Los Gatos is not just for the wealthy – there are many middle class and some economically disadvantaged people here too.

There is not one “Los Gatos Lifestyle”. Some residents may focus their activities on sports, others on wine or coffee bars, still others on a school, church, synagogue or even the town government.   We see a lot of different hobbies and interests, whether it’s volunteerism, art, history, government, business, or sports (to name just a few!).  The beach is only a half an hour away too, so that is also part of the fabric of the community.

To learn more about life in Los Gatos, please read other posts on this blog, view the photos and if you want personalized information, please contact me!

Relocating to Silicon Valley? Consider Los Gatos!

Relocating to Los Gatos?

View more slideshows of Los Gatos & nearby areas

 

Los Gatos Websites to Know

November 24, 2006

Important Links to Helpful Los Gatos Information

The Town of Los Gatos official website: http://www.losgatosca.gov/
The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce website: http://losgatoschamber.com/
Parks & Recreation Department: http://www.lgsrecreation.org/
Town of Los Gatos Parks: http://www.losgatosca.gov/index.asp?NID=102
Santa Clara County Parks: http://www.parkhere.org/portal/site/parks/ (Vasona is a Co. Park)
The fall town newsletter (pdf): http://www.losgatosca.gov/archives/38/Los%20Gatos%20Vista%200906.pdf Wineries of Los Gatos: http://www.losgatosca.gov/index.asp?nid=63
Senior Services: http://www.losgatosca.gov/index.asp?nid=52
Youth and Teen Resources: http://www.losgatosca.gov/index.asp?NID=53


Being a very highly education-conscious town, Los Gatos has many, many schools. They will be listed in a separate blog entry.