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Most Frequently Asked Questions

When is Real Estate reappraised?

When is New Construction Reappraised?

What is a Supplemental Assessment?

What is a Change-in-Ownership Statement?

When is Business Personal Property appraised?

Are Vessels subject to appraisal?

Are Boats Berths subject to Tax Assessment?

How do I appeal my assessed value?

How far back do your records date?

What types of records are stored in your office?

Can I visit your office and do my own search?

How can I obtain a copy of my title deed?

Does your office have map records?

Do you have blank forms so that I can prepare documents to be recorded myself?

How can I get a copy of my marriage certificate?

How soon after I am married can I request a copy of my marriage certificate?

How long will it take to receive the copy of my marriage certificate, after my request?

Where do I apply to get married?

Where can I obtain birth or death records?

Where can I obtain a copy of my divorce certificate?

Where can I get a permit to change my situs (street address)?

What is the difference between a title deed, deed of trust and deed of reconveyance?

Is there a recording fee for Preliminary Change of Ownership Report (PCOR) and Transfer Tax Affidavit?

What is the transfer Tax Rate for City and County of San Francisco?

How can I determine the sales price of a property?

How do I determine who owns a fence in my backyard?

I just received my credit report and it is showing a lien on my record. How can I obtain a copy of the lien and whom should I contact to remove it from my record?


When is Real Estate reappraised?

Under State law (Proposition 13), real property is reappraised only when a change-in-ownership occurs, or upon completion of new construction. Except for these two instances, property assessments cannot be increased by more than 2% annually, based on the California Consumer Price Index. The property tax rate is 1% plus any bonds, fees, or special charges.

When a sale or transfer occurs, the Assessor's Office receives a copy of the deed and determines if a reappraisal is required under State law. If it is required, an appraisal is made to determine current market value of the property. The owner is then notified of the new assessment. The owner has the right to appeal the value.

The transfer of property between husband and wife does not require a reappraisal for property tax purposes. This includes transfers resulting from divorce or death of a spouse or domestic partner. In addition, a refinancing will not cause a reappraisal. There are other exclusions for senior citizens, the disabled, and those involving parent/child transfers which are discussed later. For more information, see the following questions and answers.

When is new construction reappraised?

When the homeowner/taxpayer applies for a building construction permit with the Department of Building Inspection, the Assessor's Office receives a copy of the permit. If the construction is new (such as a room addition), a reappraisal is required. If the construction is for replacement, repair, or maintenance, a reappraisal is not required. In appraising new construction, the market value of the addition is determined and added to the value of the existing property. The existing property, however, is not reappraised. As with a change-in-ownership, the owner is notified of the new assessment and can appeal the value. Click here for a list of general guidelines of what type of new construction is assessable and to download exclusion claim forms. For further information, call 415-554-5596. Information about 2008 In-progress New Construction Assessment Letters can be found here.

What is a Supplemental Assessment?

State law requires the Assessor to reappraise property, immediately upon change-in-ownership or completion of new construction. The Assessor's Office must issue a supplemental assessment that reflects the difference between the prior assessed value and the new assessment. This value is then prorated based on the number of months remaining in the fiscal year ending June 30. This supplemental is in addition to the regular tax bill. For information regarding the value of your property, call (415) 554-5596. To appeal a supplemental assessment, an application must be filed with the Clerk of the Board within 60 days from the mailing of notice of the supplemental assessment. For more information, call (415) 554-6778.

What is a Change-in-Ownership Statement?

This statement is required by State law to be filed with all property sales and transfers at the time of recording. If it is not filed, a $20 fee must be charged and the Assessor's Office will send out another statement to obtain the required information. This statement is used solely for appraisal purposes, and is confidential. For more information, call (415) 554-5516.

When is Business Personal Property appraised?

Unlike real property, business personal property is appraised annually.  Owners of all businesses must file a business property statement each year with the Assessor’s Office detailing the cost of all their supplies, equipment, and fixtures at each location.  This is required unless the Assessor’s Office has already established the value of the business property and sent out a notification of “direct billing” or “low value” exemption.  Business inventory is exempt from taxation.  For more information, call (415) 554-5531.

Are Vessels subject to appraisal?

Vessels are taxable and appraised annually at full market value. The value is determined by reviewing the purchase information and the sales of comparable vessels. Information on a vessel’s location and ownership is obtained from the California State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the United States Coast Guard (USCG), and on-site inspections. For more information, call the Marine Division at (415) 554-5531 or send an e-mail to askmarine@sfgov.org.

It should be noted that vessels are billed separately from berths. If you have any questions about a vessel assessment, please call the Marine Division at (415) 554-5531, send fax to (415) 554-5544, Attn: Marine Division, or e-mail askmarine@sfgov.org. Please include your name and telephone number, and "account number" on the fax/e-mail or when leaving a message. For questions regarding Berths, please refer to Possessory Interest.

Are Boat Berths Subject to Tax Assessment?

Yes, boat berths rented or leased from government owned marinas, such as Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39,San Francisco Yacht Harbor, South Beach Harbor and Treasure Isle Marina are taxed every year with tax bills going out in July. These bills are based on rent paid at that marina. This is a “USE” tax, called a Possessory Interest Tax. For inquiries, please call (415) 554-5587 or (415) 554-5585, or Fax (415) 554-7915, c/o Possessory Interest Unit. Please include your name and telephone number on the fax or when leaving a message.

How do I appeal my assessed value?

Under State law, if the market value of your property (recent comparable sales) as of January 1 falls below the assessed or taxable value as shown on your tax bill, the Assessor's Office is required to lower the assessment. This type of property tax relief generally applies to recently purchased property. Assessment appeals maybe filed from July 2 to September 15. Please make sure to file your application with the Assessment Appeals Board before the deadline.

Informal Review of Assessment

If you have reason to believe that the market value of your property as of January 1 is less than the amount shown on your annual notice and you have factual evidence to support a lowered assessment, you can request an informal review by a staff appraiser by contacting us before March 31 by phone (415) 554-5596 or email assessor@sfgov.org. Requesting an informal review does not preclude you from filing a formal appeal with the Assessment Appeals Board. Please view Informal Review of Assessed Value FAQ (.pdf)  for more information.

Assessment Appeals Board

If you disagree with the assessed value or our informal review, you may file a formal “Application for Changed Assessment” with the Assessment Appeals Board, an independently appointed review board. Application information can be obtained from the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board, City Hall – Room 405, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102, phone (415) 554-6778 or web at www.sfgov.org/aab. Assessment appeals must be filed with the Clerk between July 2 and September 15.

How far back do your records date?

Our official records date back to April 1906 and our maps date back to 1850. For any historical records, please contact the San Francisco Public Library or the San Francisco Historical Society.

What types of records are stored in your office?

Our records include any written document that affects the title to or possession of real property where the recordability conforms to the requirements stated by law. A document may be executed by a person or persons transferring title to, or issuing a lien on real property, or giving a right to a debt or obligation.

In general, there is a specific statute to record a document, but many documents can be recorded without statutory justification. Often times, a county law may allow the recordation of certain documents in addition to those recognized by state law, only if the procedures for recording comply with the state law.

Can I visit your office and do my own search?

Yes. We always encourage the public to conduct your own searches by accessing our computer systems and general index on microfiche and microfilm, we also have staff on duty to assist you or answer any questions.

How can I obtain a copy of my title deed?

You can obtain a copy of your title deed by coming to our office or sending a written request along with a payment (Recording Fees). If you do not know the number of pages in the document, you may send a check with the instruction of “Not to exceed $____” (written in the Payable To area of the check) in order to avoid rejection of your request for lack of adequate funds. Please note that you will receive the most current deed unless you specify the book and page of the document in your letter. Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope with your request.

Does your office have map records?

The office carries three types of maps: block maps, parcel and condominium maps. For block maps, please provide the block number. For parcel and/or condominium maps always provide the book and page. Block maps are printed on 8 ½” by 11” for a $3.00 fee per map. Parcel and/or condominium maps are printed on 18” by 24” for $5.00 the first page and $3.00 each additional page per map.

Do you have blank forms so that I can prepare documents to be recorded myself?

No. We do not provide any blank forms. You can obtain forms from a stationery store or bookstore.

How can I get a copy of my marriage certificate?

There are several ways you can obtain a copy of your marriage certificate:

  1. In person, complete the Application for Certified Copy of a Non-Confidential (Public) Marriage Certificate request between the hours of 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
  2. By mail, download a copy of the Application for Certified Copy of a Non-Confidential (Public) Marriage Certificate complete the application, have it notarized, and send your application and a check in the amount of $15.00 for each certificate requested, payable to the San Francisco Assessor-Recorder at 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, City Hall, Room 190, San Francisco, CA 94102. Your request must include the couple's first and last names used at time of filing the marriage license and date of marriage. Also, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope.
  3. Online through a secure independent company; VitalChek Network, Inc. which can be reached through its website at www.vitalchek.com or by phone at 800-669-8312. An addtional fee is charged by VitalChek for using this service, and all major credit cards are accepted, including American Express®, Discover®, MasterCard® or Visa®.  Please note there is a $12.95 convenience fee for any requests taken online by VitalChek or over the phone by VitalChek. The Recorder does not accept credit cards for online or phone orders.

How soon after I am married can I obtain a copy of my marriage certificate?

You may order copies of your marriage license 10 days after the marriage license has been received in the Assessor-Recorder's office.

How long will it take to receive the copy of my marriage certificate after my request?

Please allow 4-6 weeks after receipt of your request. The exceptions for this time period is when you can provide proof that you need the marriage certificate on an expedited basis (i.e., military reasons).  The desire to have your name changed is not considered an undue hardship.

Where do I apply to get married?

You apply for a marriage license at the Office of the County Clerk located in City Hall, Room 168.

I just received my credit report and it is showing a lien on my record. How can I obtain a copy of the lien and whom should I contact to remove it from my record?

The Assessor-Recorder’s Office is not authorized to release any Federal, State, Mechanic, Local Liens or Abstracts of Judgment from your real property or your name without a Release of Lien issued by the party that recorded the lien. Please do not contact the Assessor-Recorder’s Office to dispute any lien issues unless the lien was placed by the Assessor-Recorder for Delinquent Transfer Taxes. You may obtain copies of any document recorded in our office either in person or by a written request (copying charges apply).

Where can I obtain birth or death records?

Recent Birth and Death Certificates:

Newborn certificates are available approximately 4 weeks after the birth date of the child. For birth years up to 3 years old, as well as death certificates where the event date is up to 3 years old, please contact the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Vital Records Division, at 101 Grove Street, Room 105. For questions by phone, please dial the city's 311 Customer Service Center by dialing 3-1-1 inside San Francisco and outside of San Francisco by dialing (415) 701-2311. NOTE: These vital records are NOT available at the Office of the County Clerk.

For more information, please refer to the Department of Public Health Office of Vital Records website.

Older Birth & Death Records:

Birth certificates for individuals born in San Francisco County more than 3 years ago and back to 1906 are available at the Office of the County Clerk. Death certificates are available for individuals deceased in San Francisco County more than 3 years ago and back to 1906. To visit the County Clerk for Vital Records (Birth and Death Certificates), contact the Office of the County Clerk at City Hall, Room 162, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102-4678 or email: county.clerk@sfgov.org.

For more information, please refer to the Office of the County Clerk website.

Where can I obtain a copy of my divorce certificate?

For divorce records, please contact the Clerk of the Superior Court by mail at 400 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 or by telephone at (415) 551-4000.

Where can I get a permit to change my situs (street address)?

The Department of Building Inspection at 1660 Mission Street issues permits.

What is the difference between a title deed, deed of trust and deed of reconveyance?

A title deed shows ownership of the property executed between two parties: grantee and grantor. A deed of trust is a loan document that is executed by three parties: trustor (borrower), trustee and beneficiary (lender). A deed of reconveyance is a document showing that a loan under a certain deed of trust has been paid in full. It is important to note that when the bank issues a deed of reconveyance, the title on the property does not change.

Is there a recording fee for the Preliminary Change of Ownership Report (PCOR) and Transfer Tax Affidavit?

No, there is no recording fee for these two forms. However, the Preliminary Change of Ownership Report (PCOR) and Transfer Tax Affidavit must always accompany any title deed you intend to record.

What is the Transfer Tax Rate for the City and County of San Francisco?

If entire value or consideration is:

More than $100 but less than or equal to $250,000, the tax rate is $2.50 for each $500 or portion thereof;

More than $250 but less than $1,000,000, the tax rate is $3.40 for each $500 or portion thereof;

$1,000,000 or more but less than $5,000,000, the tax rate is $3.75 for each $500 or portion thereof;

$5,000,000 or more but less than $10,000,000, the tax rate is $10.00 for each $500 or portion thereof;

$10,000,000 or more, the tax rate is $12.50 for each $500 or portion thereof.

How can I determine the sales price of a property?

You can obtain the sales price of a property if you have the transfer tax rate indicated on the title deed. Please see our transfer tax rate sheet for formulas.

How do I determine who owns the fence in my backyard?

One of the fences in my backyard has collapsed. I spoke to my neighbor about replacing the fence and dividing the cost between us, but he claims he should not have to pay because the fence is not on his property. How can I determine on whose side the fence is and who should carry the costs?

This is a very complex problem and you will need to contact an attorney or legal advisor to counsel you on neighborhood laws. You also have the option of hiring a surveyor to establish your property line and thus determine who must carry the cost of replacing the fence.

 
Last updated: 2/19/2014 9:37:07 AM