San Diego

Mills Act Properties


The Mills Act, named for San Diegan James Mills, a former California state senator, provides a property tax incentive to encourage restoration, rehabilitation and preservation of privately owned historic properties. Owners of properties designated historic can enter into a voluntary contract with the city of San Diego and save significantly on their property taxes. In condo buildings, the Mills Act contract is between the homeowners association (HOA) and the city, while the tax savings go directly to the individual condo owners.

Tax Savings

Q: How much will I save on my property taxes?
A: The amount you save will depend on your property’s location, size and comparable rents in the area. The value continues to be assessed by the County Tax Assessor’s office using a formula and procedures contained in state law. Property tax reductions result when the property tax amount that is based on the Mills Act value is compared to the previous property tax amount. The savings vary from property to property, and have ranged from 20% to 70% based on the County Tax Assessor’s property valuations in accordance with the state law formula. Properties that have been under the same ownership for a long time (e.g., pre-Prop. 13), where the property taxes are already low compared to homes sold at the peak of the market, will most likely not benefit from the Mills Act.

Local Designation

Q: Is the property eligible without local historic designation?
A: No; local historic designation is required before you can enter into a Mills Act agreement. Even if your property is listed on the National Register and/or California Register, but is not designated historic by the city, your property is not eligible for the Mills Act.

Agreement Term

Q: What is the term of the Mills Act agreement?
A: The terms of Mills Act agreements are established by state law. The initial term of the agreement is ten years. The agreement is automatically renewed each year for an additional year, and changes the expiration date so that 10 years is still left in the term of the agreement. The agreement will thus continue in effect indefinitely unless notice is served by either party for the automatic renewals to stop. If either party serves notice for the automatic renewals to stop, the agreement will expire on the agreement’s current expiration date, which would be about ten years after the notice is recorded.


Q: What are the responsibilities of a Mills Act agreement?
A: The responsibilities of Mills Act agreements are established by state law and any other requirements set up by the local Mills Act program. Generally, the property owner is required to maintain and preserve the site in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. All other local regulations on historic sites in the city also apply.

New Ownership

Q: If I buy a property with the Mills Act in place, do I have to apply again?
A: If you purchase a property that has been designated as historic by the Historical Resources Board and the previous owner had a Mills Act agreement recorded on the property, the Mills Act benefits go with the land. That way, new owners “inherit” the agreement’s benefits and responsibilities.


Q: Is the Mills Act available to all local individual historically-designated structures and those in established local historical districts?
A: Yes, except within redevelopment areas. The Mills Act is not uniformly allowed for all properties in these areas. You should check with the staff of the particular redevelopment area to find out if they will approve a Mills Act agreement.

Condo Association

Q: How does the Mills Act Program work for a condominium association?
A: In condo buildings, only the homeowners association (HOA) may submit the application. The Mills Act contract is between the HOA and the city. Consequently, the HOA is responsible for carrying out the work established in the work program. The County Tax Assessor’s office will prepare individual documents for each condominium owner in order to reassess the individual tax assessment for each unit. The tax savings will go directly to the individual condo owners. It is then up to the HOA to decide how to pay for the improvements outlined.


Getting official recognition of your historic property is satisfying and rewarding. Historic designation has been proven to raise property values, and, if your property is eligible, it can have tax advantages in exchange for restoration work in keeping with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. In the real estate market, the designation benefits sellers as well as buyers. Moreover, it promotes preservation of historical landmarks that contribute to the community identity and character of the region.

First Step

Check whether your property has already been documented. Find out if it is designated on the California Historic Resources Inventory Database (CHRID) website search page. Furthermore, your property may be a contributor to an existing historic district. Check for a listing of local districts (including those in the works). If your search indicates your property is not documented, your next step is to begin compiling the property history.


If you’re looking to document your property for historic designation status, research can be a fascinating and fulfilling project. Should you decide to undertake this task yourself, begin by reviewing the steps laid out on the Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) website. The tools will help your research property within San Diego County.


Compiling your property history and applying for a historic designation takes a lot of time and research. Most homeowners hire a professional specializing in historic property research, historic landmark nomination, and Mills Act application assistance. If you decide to take this route, please contact us for recommendations.


We maintain an up-to-date list of properties designated historic with the Mills Act in place. Our list also includes potential candidates. Please contact us via email/text (below) and we’ll send you a link to these properties. There is no cost or obligation for this service.


Thomas Aleksander
Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty
Owner of a Historic Property
619.693.6463 voice/text



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Metro Central

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Historic Districts

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BUYER Resources

New Listing Alerts

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Coming Soon Listings

San Diego houses and condos for sale often get promoted before they are officially released to the market. Let us know what you are looking for, and we will help you beat other buyers to these hot new listings.


Mortgage Pre-Approval

As a prospective purchaser, it makes sense to start the financing pre-approval early on so you can get a firm handle on your interest rate and estimate of closing costs. If you do this prior to searching for your house or condo, you can shop with a greater sense of freedom and security – knowing that the money will be there when you find the property.

When you are ready to make an offer, it makes sense to negotiate from the strongest position possible. In today's market, it's not uncommon for a seller to receive multiple offers on their property. Sellers can be selective in the final buyer they choose to negotiate with. All things being equal, a pre-approved buyer will almost always win. With that said, there are things you can do to make certain that your offer is the one the seller accepts.

Pre-approval is fast, easy and free. Should you decide to take advantage of it, simply contact us and we will forward your information to one of our preferred mortgage professionals who can assist you.


10 Common Buyer Traps

Buying a house or condo in San Diego is a major investment no matter which way you look at it. For some buyers, it can be an even more expensive process than it needs to be because they fall prey to at least a few of the many common and costly mistakes. These mistakes trap them into:

  • paying too much for the property they want, or
  • losing the property to another buyer, or
  • buying the wrong property for their needs.

A systemized approach to the buying process can help you steer clear of these common traps, allowing you to not only cut costs, but also secure the property that's best for you.

A special industry report has recently been released entitled 10 Home Buying Traps and How to Avoid Them. The report discusses the ten most common and costly buyer traps, how to identify them, and what you can do to avoid them. Read this important report before you purchase your property.


Trading Up & Downsizing
Unlike the experience of buying your first house or condo, when you already own a property and are looking to trade up or downsize to another, there are certain factors that can complicate the situation. It's very important for you to understand these issues before you list your property for sale.

Not only is there the issue of financing to consider – especially when trading up – but you also have to sell your property at exactly the right time. The timing is crucial in order to avoid the financial burden of owning two properties or, just as bad, the dilemma of having no place to live during the gap between closings.

In answer to this, industry insiders have recently prepared a special report entitled 6 Housing Mistakes to Avoid When Trading Up or Downsizing. The information contained in this report will help you make informed choices before you put your property on the market in anticipation of moving to another. Read this report now and find out how to make your move worry-free and without complications.


SELLER Resources

Value of Your Property

Knowing the true market value of your house or condo is important if you are thinking about selling it. By providing us with the address and a brief description of your property, we can conduct a thorough pricing analysis for you. With this current data, you will be able to determine what your property might sell for if you decide to put it on the market. There is no cost or obligation for this service.


27 Valuable Seller Tips

Because your house or condo may well be your largest asset, selling it is probably one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Once you have made that decision, you'll want to sell your property for the highest price in the shortest time possible without compromising your sanity. It's imperative that you are as prepared as possible in order to achieve this goal.

To help sellers better understand the selling process, industry experts have recently prepared a special report entitled 27 Tips to Get Your Home Sold Fast and for Top Dollar. The report tackles the important issues you must be aware of to make your house or condo competitive in today's today's aggressive San Diego market. Through the 27 tips, you'll discover how to avoid financial disappointment or, worse, a financial disaster when selling your property. Read this report to learn how to protect and capitalize on your most important investment, reduce stress, be in control of your situation, and make the most profit possible.


Passing the Inspection

Whether you own an old house or a brand new one, there are a number of things that can fall short of requirements during a home inspection. It's critical that you identify and deal with these issues before you list your house for sale. If you wait until the buyer's inspector flags them, you will almost certainly experience costly delays in the close of your property sale or, worse, turn prospective buyers away altogether. In most cases, you can make a reasonable pre-inspection yourself if you know what to look for.

According to industry experts, at least 33 physical problems come under scrutiny during an inspection. A recently released report, entitled 12 Things You Must Know to Pass Your Home Inspection, identifies the most common of these issues and what you should know about them. Read this report now and learn how to ensure a home inspection doesn't cost you the sale of your property.


Expired Listing

If your house or condo has just come off the market and has not sold, don't be discouraged. The reason it did not sell may have nothing to do with your property or the market. In reality, your house or condo may have been one of the more desirable properties for sale. So why didn't it sell?

In today's San Diego market, many properties listed for sale don't sell during the initial listing period. Owners of these properties found that there was a tremendous amount they needed to be educated on in order to successfully meet their real estate goals. Before you hire another real estate agent for job of selling your property, know the right questions to ask. Don't risk making the wrong choices and losing time, energy and money on your investment.

To help educate sellers before they sign another listing agreement, industry experts have prepared a special report entitled Expired Listing: How to Sell a Home that Didn't Sell. Read this report now and make sure your property actually sells the next time you put it on the market.


Listing Your Property

If you're thinking about listing your house or condo for sale, please review what we can do for you in today's competitive market.


GENERAL Resources

Pets & Moving

Moving can be hard on everyone involved: adults, kids, and yes... even your pets! While your pet may not understand exactly what is going on, they can sense the stress (good or bad) that the whole family is experiencing. Add to that the fact that animals are creatures of habit and do not like changes to their usual routine, and you can understand why they become so confused. They can also become quite anxious when all of a sudden they see their human family busily throwing everything around them into boxes.

Naturally, we always want to keep our pets happy and healthy because we love them. However, we also want to lessen the chances of their "acting-out." Animals, just like people, can behave rather badly under stress. We need to do all we can to help them feel secure throughout the moving process.

With this in mind, we have gathered helpful moving tips from industry experts that any pet owner can easily follow. These tips can be found in a special report entitled Pet Owners: Making the Move Easier on Your Pets. Read this important report now if you're planning on moving with pets.



Kids & Moving

Over the years, many studies have been conducted to define and rank which typical life experiences cause the greatest amount of stress for the average adult. For anyone who has had to make a move, it probably comes as no surprise that moving ranks within the top 10 of the most stressful events. Once you add children to the equation, the stress level only increases.

To help parents prepare their young children for the move, and also help them adjust to their new home and community after the move, we have compiled the best tips from industry experts. These tips can be found in a special report entitled Parents: Preparing Your Young Children for the Move. Read this important report now if you're planning on moving with children.



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Trusted Service Providers

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Ask an Expert

There is no doubt that buying or selling real estate is a complex process. That's why we provide many valuable resources on this website. However, if you have a concern or question that you can't find an answer for here, we still want to help. Contact us and we will connect you with an appropriate expert for response.