$1.25 per thousand dollars of purchase price is the base rate throughout California. As an example, if you buy a home for $400,000, your yearly base property taxes will be $5,000 a year or $416.67 a month.
Note that I used the word ‘base” – some municipalities, cities or local subdivisions can add to this to cover local development costs, bond measures, etc. Some areas also have other assessments such as Mello Roos.
See this link for more info on Mello Roos: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mello-Roos
Unlike other parts of the country, your tax base WILL NOT be reassessed periodically to increase your taxes. Because of Prop 13, base tax rates are computed solely on purchase price and DO NOT CHANGE until some mitigating factor occurs. These can range from you asking for a lower assessment due to declining property values or substantive upgrades/renovations/additions to your home that actually increase your property’s value. Local building permits are linked to the County Assessor’s office and, once improvements have been completed, expect a visit from the county assessor to determine increased value.
See this link for more info on Prop 13: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prop_13
As stated below, your county assessor’s office can give you specific amounts.
"How do I find out the property tax rate in Cupertino/Sunnyvale/Mountain View?"
There a THREE classifications of “tax” that may be part of any purchase in CA. The process for finding out the specific tax for a property is detailed in the following blog post:
"Estimating Property Taxes in CA"
"Is it based solely on the sold value?"
No, any property is subject to "Voter Approved Indebtedness" and “Direct/Special Assessments” (also covered in the blog above).
"Does it take into account the lot size, year built, etc?"
Lot size: Yes, the land is actually separately valued but then rolled back up along with the "improvements value" to come up with the General Tax Levy.
Year built: No.
"Does it change every year?"
Normally, yes, it increases every year; however, in the current market it can also go down (via the Prop 8 appeals process or the County Assessor can also independently lower the value - see blog). When markets are “normal” demand for housing increases and so do home prices and therefore property taxes. Due to Prop 13, once you buy a home the General Tax Levy can increase no more than 2% per year (the exception being if one makes improvements to the home; thereby increasing its base value, which will trigger a Supplemental tax bill.
At your service,
CDPE- Certified Distressed Property Expert
Hope this helps.