California residents performing a real estate transaction will be somewhat familiar with the PCOR form. PCOR stands for Preliminary Change of Ownership Report. It is found in the opening document forms (following grant deed or quitclaim deed) that are part of the opening escrow process. The PCOR and it’s potential follow up form, the COR, are both important documents and should not be overlooked. Doing so can cost you thousands of dollars in penalties. In this article, we’ll go over the PCOR’s purpose and what’s involved with filling one out.
What Is A PCOR?
A PCOR is specific to California real estate transactions. It is issued by the State Board of Equalization per Section 480.3 of California’s Revenue and Taxation Code. It is a form used to notify the county assessor’s office of real property transactions (buys and sells). The buyer (grantee) of the property fills out the two-page PCOR questionnaire.
PCORs include information such as:
Details of property
Principals involved in the transfer
Type of transfer
Terms of sale
The PCOR must be filed at the time of recording and attached to the recording ownership transfer document. Otherwise, the buyer will incur a $20.00 fee. The PCOR is filed with the county recorder’s office. It is a private document, which means it isn’t available for public inspection.
If the PCOR is incomplete or has mistakes for some reason, another form called a Change of Ownership Report (COR) will be sent out by the assessor's office. The two-page COR form looks like the two-page PCOR. While you might consider disregarding the COR as some type of confirmation, that would be a mistake. The COR must be filled out and returned within 45 days. If not, the transferee (buyer) will be subject to a $5,000 penalty if the property is their primary residence. If it is an investment property (not a residence), the penalty is $20,000.
What is the purpose?
A PCOR allows the county tax assessor to properly assess taxes on properties. It also provides the assessor with a mailing address for tax statements. From the PCOR, the county assessor is able to determine which properties require reappraisal under the law (i.e., Proposition 13). Typically an ownership change triggers a reassessment.
Reappraisal is at fair market value and on the date of ownership change. There are cases where a reassessment of the transfer is not necessary. That information is determined from Part I of the PCOR form.
How to complete?
The PCOR is a two-page document. Below we’ve outlined a description of the main areas of the form and what to expect from each.
Top Of Form
Identifies the buyer (transferee) and the seller (transferor)
Mailing address to which property tax notices are to be sent
Part I — This is the largest section of the form and includes information for determining if the transfer can be excluded from reassessment. If part C of this section is checked for a parent to child transfer, the parent to child exclusion form must be filled out as well.
Part 2 — This section starts on page 2 and is for other transfer information. In many cases, page 2 is not completely filled out. If anything, only Part 2 will be filled out. This section includes information such as a different transfer date, which might be the case if death or probate is involved.
Part 3 — Purchase Price and Terms of Sale
Part 4 — Property Information
Bottom of Form — This area requires the buyer's signature, date, and telephone number.
Often, there isn’t anything that you need to fill in on the PCOR. It should already be filled out. However, check it over for any mistakes. If you happen to get another form that looks like the PCOR, this is most likely the COR form. Be sure to fill it out and send it back completed within 45 days to avoid penalties.
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