Winston & Strawn tax attorney Bradley Marsh was quoted in the June 19, 2012 San Francisco Chronicle article titled "How to Transfer Property Tax from Old Home to New."
The article discusses Proposition 60, which allows California homeowners over the age of 55 to transfer the property-tax assessment of their old home to a new one, given that the market value of the new home is less than or equal to the value of the old home. Prop. 60 benefits longtime homeowners who want to downsize, but would normally face a property-tax increase under Proposition 13, which requires a reassessment of homes when there is a change in ownership.
Mr. Marsh warns that "there are a lot of pitfalls" with Prop. 60, adding: "Just because you sold one place for $700,000 and bought another for $695,000, doesn't mean you will" qualify. Assessors could potentially challenge whether the sales price and market value are equal, and even a dollar over the cutoff would mean disqualification for the transfer. Mr. Marsh also notes that property such as a washer, dryer, or hot tub, which may be included in the sale, should not be included in the market value for use with Prop. 60.