I received a come-on letter from a lawyer who wants to represent me in an appeal of my residential property tax assessment under California's Proposition 8 (enacted in 1978, concerning temporary declines in value). "Unless I win you a tax reduction, there is no cost, no fee, and no expense of any kind."
My (perhaps overly cynical) fear is that the letter does not present the complete picture and that once all the pieces come together, it's unlikely to actually save me anything significant and may even cost me more in the long run.
If it matters, I live in San Francisco and purchased my home in the summer of 2009.
The state's web page on the issue seems to indicate that counties are being proactive about this, implying (to me, anyway) that an appeal is unnecessary and unlikely to be hugely successful.
My instincts say I should beware and stay far away.
Is this type of property tax assessment appeal something I should look into (perhaps with a lawyer of my own choosing)? Or is this almost certainly a losing strategy and I shouldn't spend one more minute of my time thinking about it? Should I just go on a site like Zillow and see what it thinks my property and comparable nearby properties are worth, compare that to what I'm being assessed at, multiply the difference by my property tax rate, and use that to determine if it is worth even thinking about? Or is that not a sufficiently reliable way to make a determination?