California law requires new homeowners (and anyone else who buys real estate) to file a declaration of property ownership.
Owners who delay filing change of ownership forms for real property or manufactured homes could face significant consequences. Beginning in 2014, the fines for failing to file has increased from $2,500 to $20,000 (with a maximum fine of $5,000 for homes that qualify for the homeowners tax exemption). The higher penalties apply on properties worth more than $2.5 million.
The good news is the law now allows 90 days (up from 45 days) to file the notification form. Your escrow company can file the form, known as a Preliminary Change of Ownership Report (PCOR) or a Preliminary Change of Ownership Statement (PCOS), with the local assessor along with your new property deed.
If you are a buyer, it’s more important than ever that your escrow company has your correct personal information, including full name and legal residence. If the form is not filled out with correct data, it can be rejected, and the delay could lead to the heavier fines be imposed.