Check your property tax assessment

Home prices have fallen so far, so fast that many homes are overvalued on local property tax records.

Most local governments only do full reappraisals every three to five years, which means your property tax bill could be hundreds of dollars higher than it should be.

Start by finding out how your property tax assessment is calculated.

In some areas, a home's assessed value is the same as its full market value, or the price it would fetch if it was sold tomorrow.

In other places, it's a percentage of the market value.

Now, check the records on your county or local government's Web site and compare the assessed value of your home to what you think it should be based on the most up-to-date estimate you have of its fair market value.

Start by looking at Web sites that use public records and computer programs to estimate property values, such as Zillow.com, Propertyshark.com, Cyberhomes.com or Trulia.com.

If they indicate your home is overvalued, try to confirm the market price with a local real estate agent who has a working knowledge of home sales in your neighborhood.

If you still think you're being overtaxed, you may want to challenge your assessment.

Just be aware that the National Taxpayers Union says only 20% to 40% of property owners who appeal their assessment win their case.