Get tips on how to lower your property taxes

LOS ANGELES Xavier Sibaja couldn't have been happier when he bought his two bedroom condo in Glendale a few years ago.

"I thought it was a great investment because it had been renovated," said Sibaja. "There was nothing to do except move in. The price was knocked down $100,000 so I thought it was a great deal and immediately bought it."

Of course we all know what has happened to housing values since then. Sibaja says his place dropped another $100,000, but that's when he thought he might get his property taxes to drop too. So a friend told him to fill out a property value review form on the County Tax Assessor's website and submit it.

"It was very simple. All they wanted was my name, address and the property ID. That's it, nothing else," said Sibaja.

A few weeks later the County Assessor sent him a letter confirming they had lowered the value on Sibaja's condo.

"I basically saved over $1,000 in taxes by doing that review," said Sibaja.

A $1000 a year, that's huge. At the same time this happened Sibaja received a letter from a realtor who claimed he could get Sibaja's taxes reduced, but Sibaja would have to sign a contract that required him to pay the realtor 35 percent of his first year's tax savings. Well, if Sibaja did that it would cost him over $350.

Credit counseling experts at ClearPoint say that if you want to get your taxes lowered you shouldn't have to pay anything.

"To pay for this particular assessment is definitely not something that we would advise," said Walter Dees of ClearPoint.

Dees says there are plenty of property tax scams out there so beware if you have to pay a large fee. Remember you can do it yourself for free. But if by chance you're turned down you can always appeal their decision.

"If you got your tax assessment back and it is not what you are looking for then you can actually appeal that assessment and have them reassess your property," said Dees.

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