From the Forum – DC “Residential Sales Verification Questionnaire”

Photo by PoPville flickr user angela n.

DC “Residential Sales Verification Questionnaire”

“I just received a “Residential Sales Verification Questionnaire” from an appraiser for the DC government asking for information about the interior of my home that I purchased last fall. The cover letter gives me the option of scheduling a home inspection in lieu of filling out the survey.

Does anyone have any insight into this? Is this required? Looking for input from anyone who has experience with this. Thanks!”

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35 Comment

  • I received one of these as well. Assumed it was since I just refinanced my mortgage. Haven’t really had a chance to sit down and look at it yet though.

  • DC1

    Not required, but if you want to have a ‘fair’ appraisal is best if you send it back.
    Having them come to your home and is never a good idea if you want to keep your taxes reasonable.

  • I got one of these as well. What are the pros and cons or doing this survey?

    If you have no intention of selling anytime soon, wouldn’t it be better to keep you property value artificially low [by not doing the survey] for lower property taxes? And when and if you do choose to sell, have the home appraised at that time to better reflect the market value?

    +100 to PoP for being some timely/ relevant.

    • houseintherear

      A pro for me was to make the records accurate; my house was listed as a 2br/1ba but actually had two bathrooms (just needed the sink hooked up and a new toilet). So this was a good chance for me to set the record straight for any potential future issues with listing my house in the future.

    • I have the same questions. Is it better to not return the form and leave it as is (currently the appraised value for tax purposes of my condo is well below market rate)?

      • And when I go to sell, how important is it to have an accurate appraised value by the city? The city’s current appraised value is much lower than I paid for the place, but I didn’t really even consider that a factor in buying it. Should I have? My bank’s appraisal actually came in $25k over sales price.

        • I have to agree with house up there that the only pro is if your home is recorded incorrectly. Financing appraisals are based on comparable sales, not property tax records. I happily sit here with my below-market-value tax appraisals. I’ve never returned one of these forms, even though I get them occasionally. Honestly, that’s not out of malice or anything, I just forget to fill them out for, like, 6 months and then figure it’s too late to bother.

    • DC1

      Appraised value won’t affect the market value… my home was appraised at $340k and bought it for $800k this past Sept, so even if you are looking to sell soon is best to always keep it low.
      The problem with not doing the survey is that the city can ask you later on to do a home inspection and if there are things/renovations that are not on file they will immediately raise your next tax bill.

  • When I bought my home in November 2007, I had a lady from OTR (she had ID) knock on my door and ask if she could come inside to do an inspection. I respectfully declined. She then asked if I could verify if the information OTR had was correct and she handed me a piece of paper that listed the number of levels, bedrooms, and bathrooms. I can’t remember if they information she presented was correct or not, but I do remember telling her that I didn’t have changes to make on the sheet.

    • Right. If you live in a renovated home I highly recommend declining access to the “inspector” if they come to your house. If you decline, they will just look outside and may ask you to verify bedrooms, baths, finished basement, etc. You have no legal obligation to allow them to come inside. We declined when they came to our house.

      • Or you could just be honest and pay your (very low) property taxes on the true value of your home, instead of finagling to save a few hundred dollars.

        • Because DC, especially the Office of Tax and Revenue, is such a wonderful custodian of public funds, right?

        • +1000 those taxes are what funds the city services we all enjoy. Please pay your taxes!

          • Agreed. Also, I’m wondering if all the comments on here suggesting people intentionally withhold or outright misrepresent the value of their property in order to lower their tax burden are the same ones asking for more police on the streets, better schools, better roads, etc.
            It’s really hard not to see the irony.

          • This is what happens when people view their home solely as a fungible casino “investment” and thus have no pride in their community. What a shame.

          • Thanks for this comment. This is what was going through my head as well. People, please pay the correct and fair amount of your taxes as is prescribed by current laws/regulations. If you don’t like the amount, then you have avenues to try and change the system. If you are unable, your obligation is to pay them whether or not you agree. It’s the same for the people who knowing park illegally (Like 3 hours in a 2hour zone, etc.) and then complain and try and get out of tickets. UGH!!

      • ah


        I would verify the accuracy of the information, and be sure to correct it if it shows you have things that you don’t, which would make the house more valuable. E.g., if you have fewer bedrooms than listed, be sure to tell them that.

        When we renovated we lost a bedroom – I made them aware of that. I did not invite them in to see what the new, bigger bedroom looked like.

  • you are not legally required to complete this form or let them inspect as the appraiser will reflect his taxable value regardless if you allow them to make an inspection. There is no advantage to you to correct the property condition and accuracy of the property information as it will not affect what price you can ask for when you sell. Accurate records might make you feel better and be better for the city knowing it can charge the maximum taxable value for your unit, but it doesn’t feel like a good deal from a property owner perspective. When the entire city doesn’t have to comply, why should you volunteer to help the appraiser find reason to increase your property tax value relative to your neighbor who didn’t have to unless there were obvious external additions or changes from the footprint.

    • Because its the right thing to do. Why do you pay income taxes even if there is a statistically low chance you’d ever get caught?

      • I pay income tax because it’s the law. I also pay my property taxes, because that’s also the law. However, it is NOT the law that you need to allow an inspector from OTR into your house to snoop around.

  • I have definitely answered one of those over the phone and their information wasn’t totally correct so there is that. I was thinking that it was maybe something new. There has been at least one really be lawsuits settled and a few in the works so they may have done something to try and follow up on flipper/developer jobs but this sounds like it has been going on longer than that.

  • Well they’ve already raised my taxes since having bought the home 1yr ago- taxes increasing by almost 1k being it was a complete rehab. SO I don’t see any benefit for me replying- they may raise it more based on my input.

  • Agents could care less what the city appraises your house for. It’s value is based on location, recent sales, condition of home etc. Having the city appraise your home is an invitation to higher property taxes. I’d toss it in the trash.

    • Mortgage lenders, however, care very much. But that is all private appraisals that has nothing to do with how the city values your home for tax purposes as far as I’m aware.

  • that’s it, i’m becoming libertarian. Someone comes in from the government and raises your property taxes? it’s just very arbitrary!

  • So timely! I just got one of these in the mail on Monday. What really miffed me was that the return envelope didn’t have pre-paid postage. What gives, DC Tax and Revenue? Are the good citizens of this city to be expected to pay for their own stamps??

  • Never invite a vampire into your home. Just saying

  • I got the survey last year and I didn’t fill it out because I had just purchased a completely renovated condo – I figured any information I gave them could only hurt me and, despite everyone’s faith in the process, I’ve heard enough stories of overvaluations that I wasn’t particularly interested in tempting fate. In the end, they assessed it fairly (about 15k under what I paid) and my property tax bill has doubled. Make sure you’re getting your homestead deduction! I didn’t realize until I checked recently that I wasn’t.

  • I’m curious of how this intersects with having a homestead exemption, which caps the taxable value of the home by some percentage year over year, right? Doesn’t that artificially deflate nearly everyone’s homes? I have one and the taxable value of my home is like half what market value is precisely because the city is prohibited from raising the taxable rate but so high year over year? If you voluntarily provide additional information that may raise the value of your home, does this form allow the city to ignore the impact of the homestead exemption?

    • HaileUnlikely

      It shouldn’t at all, unless somebody is trying to manipulate the values for the purpose of generating a certain total amount of tax revenue. The Homestead Deduction doesn’t lower the assessed value, you just don’t get taxed on the whole assessed value.

      • Right – the homestead deduction just reduces your “taxable” value by something like $65,000 from the assessed value. In addition (and separate from the homestead deduction) I believe the amount which our taxes can rise every year is capped.

        • Right, but without the cap for year over year, then it would matter if your assessed value rose based on whatever you send back on this form. That was my point. I just wanted to be sure that this wouldn’t impact the way the taxed value is calculated if you have the homestead exemption. My house is currently valued at probably half what I paid for it, partly because it was renovated and I doubt that has been factored in, and the homestead exemption has slowed the taxable amount dramatically considering how much property values have gone up in five years in Truxton. I’ll probably just play it safe and leave it alone and not reply.

          Based on your point, if I alerted them that my house was worth $600K instead of $300K, then if taxable value is assessed value minus $65,000, that would go up. I think the year over year cap and the homestead prevents that, but just wanted to be sure.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I halfway suspect that aside from not having up to date info on your house, the assessment might contain some sort of egregious error. The assessment comprises two components, “land” and “improvements.” I don’t know where exactly you live, but given your user name, I’m guessing somewhere around Truxton. Even houses with tiny almost non-existent yards over there have their land assessed at over $300K (just the land, ignoring the “improvements” [i.e., house]). They’ll probably fix that sooner or later regardless of whether you return your form, but the cap on the max year-over-year increase should still apply. If there truly is an error, I don’t know how correcting the error would interact with the cap… I’d recommend looking up your land and improvements assessed values (here: and doing the same for a few neighbors with lots of comparable size, and seeing if the land assessments are reasonably similar to each other. If they are not, something is probably wrong.

    • Part of the homestead deduction is also places a cap on how much they can raise your property taxes each year (10%, i think).

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