Property value in San Mateo County boils down to locations 

Property values ballooned in San Mateo County this year, with the local combined tax roll increasing to $156 billion, an increase of $8.8 billion, according to an upbeat report recently released by the county Assessor’s Office.

But not all cities shared the wealth, it cautioned.

While the affluent municipalities of Atherton and Foster City saw a 9 percent uptick in home prices, Half Moon Bay posted a 2 percent increase. Meanwhile, property values declined .08 percent in Brisbane.

A number of factors contributed to those disparities, real estate experts said.

Brisbane is still reeling from the loss of medical supply company VWR International, which provided 50 percent of the city’s sales tax and 18.5 percent of its general fund before moving to Visalia in 2011. It left behind a vacant piece of commercial real estate that wasn’t assessed in 2013, Assessor Mark Church said. Brisbane also lost $2 million when a few high-end boats moved out of its harbor and when Dolby Labs’ equipment depreciated by $1.8 million.

On the opposite end of the county is Atherton, which hovers at third place on Forbes’ list of America’s most expensive ZIP codes, with its median home price scraping $5 million. Located right at the lip of Silicon Valley in an area festooned with native oak trees, it’s considered an extremely desirable place to live, Church said. Venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki lives there, as do HP CEO Meg Whitman and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Also on the upswing is Foster City, which has fully rebounded from the economic downturn, when many property owners had their homes reassessed at lower values. Church said 268 homes that were devalued were fully restored in value, adding $102 million to the city’s roll.

Supply-and-demand laws also worked in Foster City’s favor, said city Assistant Manager Steve Toler.

“We’ve seen significant sales of properties that have been over the asking side,” he said.

In other parts of the county, home prices continued to drop, including in Brisbane, where 97 homes were reassessed at lower value, and Half Moon Bay, where 137 properties declined.

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