Like so many younger Californians, Jas Johl struggled to buy her first house.
During a year-long hunt for something in her budget, she placed bids on about 10 houses in the Bay Area. She was outbid with all-cash offers nearly every time.
Johl, who works for the tech giant Salesforce, finally found a place in a neighborhood in North Oakland in 2016. It was pricey — $850,000 —but she thought it was a pretty good bargain for the area.
She also knew that a hefty property tax bill would accompany the price tag. And because Johl was a new homeowner, she’d be paying a lot more than many of her neighbors.
“I was expecting it, but I wasn’t expecting how much it would be I guess,” says Johl.
Johl paid nearly $13,000 in property taxes last year. It put a crimp in her budget — she rents out a room to help her afford her mortgage. But she was OK with paying that much because she knew the local schools needed tax dollars.
“I feel like it’s just the price I pay for living here,” says Johl.
Just around the corner, less than 300 feet from Johl’s house, is a duplex owned by Don Weinger.
Jas Johl in the living room of her home in North Oakland. Johl pays about $13,000 a year in property taxes, far more than many of her neighbors. (Sean Havey for California Dream)
The properties are about the same square size — Johl’s house is 1,400 square feet, Weinger’s is 1,600 including the downstairs rental unit. The real estate listing site Zillow estimates both houses are worth around $900,000.
But because of Proposition 13, Weinger’s property taxes are 40 percent lower than Johl’s — he paid a little over $7,000 last year.
That’s because Weinger bought his house in 2002, for $365,000. Under Prop. 13, homeowners pay property taxes based on the original purchase price, not the current market value.