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“Big deal or fact of city life?”

by Prince Of Petworth March 25, 2016 at 2:25 pm 18 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

Is it a common practice for private property appraisers to intrusively survey and document neighboring properties? We had an afternoon visitor (pictured) who didn’t knock, but came up on the porch and took measurements and then went through a closed gate and into a yard and took more measurements. All in all, about 12 minutes. I noticed because I’d been watching for package thefts on Capitol Hill by webcam.

On the chance it was a City re-appraisal, I checked with DC’s Tax and Revenue Office (Chief Appraiser Stephen Cappello was quickly responsive, thanks!) but determined the visitor wasn’t an OTR employee.

So, now I’m left to wonder who this person with a clipboard, SLR camera, sportjacket, rolling measuring tape, and possibly a nametag ID was. Have others experienced this? Do private appraisers do this? Big deal or fact of city life?”

  • JM

    He might be an appraiser, or working for DCRA. Or working for a utility company. You can always ask for ID.

    • dat

      My money is on DCRA inspector.

    • CapitalDame

      I think the OP’s concern is that they didn’t knock. So, they entered a gated fence and took measurements but never knocked or introduced themselves.

  • also anon

    I imagine he is an appraiser generating comps for a nearby sale but really I wouldn’t worry about it if no harm was done to you property. You don’t necessarily need to know or worry about EVERYTHING that happens while you’re gone.

    • if someone was trespassing on my property and going into a private gated yard, i would like to know, thank you very much. additionally, there is no guarantee that this person is an appraiser, but could be someone casing the joint.

      • Tim


  • LedroitTigah

    If he just stayed in the front yard, then I wouldn’t worry about it. If he made his way into the back, that’s a little more creepy (and, honestly, likely unsafe for him too), and I would try to investigate further.

  • ah

    Sounds like trespassing.

    Of course an appraiser will look at neighboring properties for various aspects of “comps” (is your house better/worse than average). But s/he shouldn’t need to measure or go in yard to do that.

    City is allowed to do this I believe for its tax appraisals.

    • also anon

      It’s been awhile but I believe our comps included stuff like yard and patio size which would require measuring.

      • GBinCH

        Most appraisers get a couple of hundred bucks to do an appraisal. I can’t imagine they’re going to spend their time actually going to other houses in the neighborhood to build their file as it wastes time (remember, they’re not hourly). I would think they’d go by online information rather than visiting comps.

  • DC Rez

    Someone once told me that “No Trespassing” really doesn’t actually work in DC given our laws?? Is that true??

    The guy has likely been to the rodeo before and knows what it takes to get his job done. Hope he doesn’t encounter a vicious dog or gun toting homeowner someday!

    • shmoo

      no, that is not true. DC code section 22-3302 will give you all the info you need.

  • hammers

    how about you ask him?

    • Anonymous

      “…because I’d been watching… by webcam.”

    • bruno

      You can pop your head out the door and say, “Excuse me, may I help you?”

      • Anon

        Do you know what a webcam is?

        • bruno

          Update: When I got home, there was an apartment inspection tag on my door from DC government for one of my neighbor’s. Maybe that’s what this dude was doing. I bet so. And yes, I know what a webcam is, but don’t forget about the real world as you fall down the rabbit hole of the computer, is kind of what I am saying.

          • bruno

            (If you’re watching from home I mean — if you are away from home, yes, I get your point. I thought this person was home— in which case, why not just ask?).


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