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The New Wave of Property Development in California: Condominium ADUs and Their Tax Implications



Assembly Bill 1033 and The New Wave of Property Development in California: Condominium ADUs and Their Tax Property Implications


Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), colloquially known as “granny flats,” are transforming the face of California real estate. Historically limited to the rental market, recent legislation has opened the doors for these units to be bought and sold as condominiums, bringing about a fresh perspective on property ownership.


What Are ADUs?

ADUs can be visualized in various forms. Whether it’s a renovated garage, a miniature house nestled in the backyard, or even an unused segment of a larger house – as frequently seen in cities like San Francisco. The versatility of ADUs is what makes them so appealing to both homeowners and property developers.


New Opportunities with Assembly Bill 1033

The recently passed Assembly Bill 1033 is the driving force behind this shift. With this legislation, Californians in select cities (those that opt in) will be able to erect an ADU on their land and put it up for sale, just like a regular condominium. This not only diversifies construction options for homeowners but also aligns with the broader goal of enhancing homeownership rates.


For this model to work, property owners are mandated to inform local utilities about the new ADU. This includes services like water, gas, electricity, and sewerage. Furthermore, the establishment of a homeowner’s association becomes necessary to manage fees associated with the upkeep of shared spaces, be it driveways, swimming pools, or common roofs.


Property Tax Complications

One of the significant changes that come with this model is the property tax structure. Each property, the primary residence, and the ADU will now be taxed separately. This bifurcation might appear straightforward, but it introduces a layer of complexity for homeowners, especially during the assessment period.

It’s anticipated that many of the ADUs transitioning into this structure will likely be acquired by close relatives or friends of the property owner. However, as this becomes a more widespread practice and familiarity grows, the market may witness an influx of traditional real estate transactions involving ADUs.


Who Stands to Benefit?

The potential beneficiaries of this legislation are manifold. On one end of the spectrum, retirees can use this opportunity to generate supplementary income. For many of them, their financial situations may not favor moving or downsizing, making this a strategic alternative to harness the equity accumulated in their homes.


Young families also have something to cheer about. As property prices soar, these ADUs present a more affordable entry point into homeownership.


Outside of California, places like Oregon, Texas, and Seattle have already showcased the viability and success of such ADU practices. Seattle’s decision to reduce regulatory impediments in 2019 led to a surge in ADU permits – a staggering four-fold increase from the previous year. The subsequent year saw an even distribution between attached and detached ADUs, highlighting their popularity. Notably, the sales figures indicate that units exceeding 1,000 square feet can command prices ranging from $500,000 to $800,000.


In Conclusion

The real estate landscape in California is undergoing a transformation. As ADUs transition from rentals to purchasable condominiums, it presents both opportunities and challenges for homeowners. Understanding the tax implications and potential benefits can help in navigating this evolving domain. Whether you’re a retiree looking for an additional income source or a young family hoping to secure their first home, the ADU-as-condominium model is a trend worth watching.


If you are considering undertaking such a project, it's crucial to fully grasp the tax implications. We highly recommend reaching out to the property tax experts at AOPTA to ensure you're well informed and prepared.

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