"Re-Assessing When Home Prices Fall" by Jeanne Boyer (Feb. 3) was a mostly accurate and informative treatment of a complex issue. I want to clarify a few of the more elusive aspects of the article.
If property owners believe the total assessed value on their current property tax bill is greater than what comparable properties are selling for in their neighborhoods, they should supply the Los Angeles County Assessor's Department with facts in writing. We'd appreciate at least three such examples.
The information about these comparable properties should clearly show that they sold for less than the total assessed value on the applicant's property tax bill.
The dates of those sales should be as close as possible to a given March 1--in this case March 1, 1991--because that is the day state law sets as the annual property reassessment date.
The Assessor's Department will review claims for what is termed a "decline in value." If the information provided by the taxpayer is confirmed, we will reduce the assessment for the forthcoming tax bill, which will be mailed in October.
The Los Angeles County Assessor's regional offices provide access to information about recent sales of comparable properties. While commercial firms charge a fee to provide sales information, this very same information, from what is termed the "408.1 Sales Listing," is readily available from us without any charge. And our employees are willing and able to help property owners in obtaining the information.
We do ask property owners who believe their assessments should be reduced to let us know as quickly as possible, so we can promptly complete an appraisal review for them and make an appropriate reduction for their upcoming bill, if warranted.
As your article noted, most properties will not be affected. The most likely are those purchased within the past year or two in areas where prices have noticeably declined.
If, after our review, taxpayers disagree with us, they should file an appeal with the Los Angeles County Assessment Appeals Board between July 2 and Sept. 15.
KENNETH P. HAHN
Assessor, County of Los Angeles