REALTORS® in Santa Clara County oppose a move to rescind a benefit which for more than two decades has allowed seniors and the disabled from other counties to take advantage of a tax incentive to relocate to the county. Rescinding this benefit provided by Proposition 90 could hurt seniors wishing to move and buy a home in the county.

Under Proposition 60 and 110, if a seller or spouse is over age 55 or if a seller of any age is disabled when their original residence is sold, the seller may transfer the base year value of their home to a replacement primary residence of equal or lesser value within the same county, provided certain conditions are fulfilled. Prop 90 extended this benefit to seniors and the disabled who move to counties that adopted Prop 90 rules.

The Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office wants the board of supervisors to eliminate this important senior tax benefit and rescind Prop 90 transfers as a way to increase revenue. Proponents admit any revenue increase would be “slight” at best. REALTORS® say a minimal increase in revenue does not outweigh the economic benefits these transactions bring to the county.

“Given the limited number of affected parcels, it is not a business or financial decision that motivates REALTORS® to speak out on this issue. We support preserving Prop 90 for the benefits it brings to the county and for qualified seniors and the disabled,” says Gene Lentz, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “The law provides an incentive for seniors to move into smaller, less expensive homes without being penalized.”

Prop 90 eases the property tax burden that otherwise could prevent seniors from moving into smaller residences, so they can be closer to children and grandchildren who reside in Santa Clara County, says Lynn Grandi-Hill, whose parents moved from San Rafael to Willow Glen in 1989.

“It was wonderful having them close by. … My children got see them more often than they would have had they stayed in San Rafael,” says Grandi-Hill.  “As much as families can stay connected and together, Prop 90 is a positive thing for society in general”

Prop 90 counteracts the “lock-in effect” created by Prop 13, which slowed the housing turnover and supply across the state. “Prop 90 helps seniors wanting to live in the county. By living here they, in turn, help the county’s economy since they will buy their groceries here, shop here, buy their gas here. They are a positive economic influence,” says Mike Sibilia, president of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®.

A Southern California senior who moved to Santa Clara County to be close to his children after his wife died, says Prop 90 was a major factor in his decision to buy a house here. “I considered a number of options and I can tell you Prop 90 was big factor in my decision,” he says. “People considering rescinding it are short-sighted. It was a big savings for me, but people like me who move here also spend money here, so the county benefits too. “

Rescinding Prop 90 would reduce the number of qualified buyers considering a home in the county. Seniors are more likely to move and buy a new home once they qualify for Prop 60 and 90 benefits. A California Association of REALTORS® survey indicates 52 percent of Prop 90 transactions would not have taken place if the measure was not in effect.