DIY: Don't pay for home reassessment

Falling home prices across the country have at least one bit of good news for homeowners -- They can have their homes reassessed and property taxes reduced if the market value is less than the assessed value.

It's free to make the request, and many counties have the forms online to print out and mail back. Not much information is needed either: Parcel number, name, and some comparable home prices in your neighborhood, along with some other minor information to identify yourself and property.

But some companies, such as Property Tax Assessment Adjusters, LLC of San Diego, are mailing out similar forms to homeowners, offering to do the same service for $93.

I understand the ease of paying someone else to do work that's too complicated or takes too much time to do yourself. That's what lawyers and accountants are for. But $93 is a fair chunk of change to pay a company to do something you can do in 10 minutes or less on your own.

I did it for our house and saved about $500 a year in property taxes because home values had dropped so much in my neighborhood. The County Assessor's office even has the forms online to fill out and mail back to get property reassessed. After that, the county automatically updates the assessed value every year. I don't have to fill out another form.

State law in California allows this temporary reduction, under Revenue and Tax Code, Section 51, or also called Proposition 8. But even outside of California, filing for the reduction should be free.

PTAA, the company that wants my $93, offers to evaluate the value of my property, prepare a detailed analysis of the property value to demonstrate the market value, fill out and file the application, work with county appraisers on my behalf, and attend any appeals hearings on my behalf if necessary.

The company's offer makes it sound like this is a lengthy, time-consuming process that will take hours of work. If it takes more than 10 minutes, I'd be amazed.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at
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