Inspectors going door-to-door to update property records for single family homes

Those of you on the south side of town may get a knock on your door sometime this summer as the town embarks on a project to update its property records. At last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Administrator Mark Purple said data collectors will be going door-to-door to inspect all single family homes in Southborough.

In a letter to homeowners, the Board of Assessors said data collectors will be tasked with collecting and validating information about every home in town, which will then be used to update records for future home valuations. The data collector will conduct an interior and exterior inspection of each home, as well as photograph the exterior.

The letter stresses that the inspector who shows up at your door does not determine your home’s value. That is done annually by the Board of Assessors based on an analysis of market conditions. So if you’re frustrated about your home’s valuation, don’t direct that frustration at the data collector, but at the Board of Assessors.

The inspection project will be broken up over two years. Purple said the first half of the project will focus mainly on homes on the south side of town and is expected to last for about five months. Homes on the north side of town will be inspected this time next year.

Purple said data collectors will be wearing badges to identify themselves. You’re asked to check the badge before letting anyone into your home, and to contact the Assessors Office at 508-485-0720 or the Southborough Police Department at 508-485-2147 if you need additional verification.

Homeowners who are part of this year’s property records review will receive a letter from the town with more information.

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11 years ago

I’ll wait to read the letter from the town to form an opinion but I really don’t like even the suggestion that we have no choice in the matter. If I don’t let them in will I lose my right to appeal their assessment? Will they threaten me with a warrant?
Not that it matters, the taxes are already too high in the whole town so what’s another couple hundred bucks.

4th Amendment is gone and don’t expect to see it again.

Let’s just ignore it like we do the school budget. Everything will be alright as long as long as we have a swap shop.

Frank Crowell
11 years ago
Reply to  Matthew

Recent events in Mass should make it clear that illegal immigrants (sorry, undocumented workers) have more constitutional rights then tax paying citizens.

11 years ago

I am just a bit perplexed as to what the data collector is, are they comparing the granite and wolf range in one home to the Kenmore fridge vs. Sub-Zero in another. Does the town have plans to purchase my home?
Thanks but no thanks to the “inspection project”

more info please
11 years ago

The data are said to be used for home valuation. What is the purpose of the town’s home valuation? Is this solely for tax purposes? Also, is this a standard procedure in other towns. I recently had a town inspector come to my house for an adjustment on my taxes (which were too high and subsequently reduced). However, this was an action on my part. I can’t say that I like the town just telling me that someone will be walking through my home. As Matthew asked, what are the consequences for denying access to this person. It just feels like an odd invasion of privacy to me. Correct me if I am wrong and this is a standard procedure.

11 years ago

As far as I know the town has the right to do these invasive inspections. they have done several to my home due to the fact I have an apartment for my mom. They consider it a two family & have done them right along. I believe they are just for tax purposes. If you refuse to let them in I believe they will increase your assessment value and request another inspection. If you still refuse they will increase it again. sooner or later you will decide the easier path is to submit. They are checking the house itself and not its contents. I rent space in Marlboro for a repair shop. They do an inspection there to tax me on all my contents tools equipment, tables chairs,microwave, and all inventory that has been done for years. If they don’t show up they send a form for me to update but the choice is always theirs

Al Hamilton
11 years ago

Did you ever wonder about why people become Libertarians or join the Tea Party? This is the sort of thing that does it.

To be clear, it is my understanding that you are not required to give an inspector access to either your home or your property. It is a shame that the Assessors office does not make that clear instead issues what appear to be misleading guidelines.

What is clear is that if you do not permit the inspector access then your property will be valued by some other means. If you are unhappy with the valuation then you will need to let an inspector in to do an inspection if you want an abatement.

So, the choice of whether to admit an inspector to your home is yours and yours alone, not the governments.

11 years ago

“Those of you on the south side of town may get a knock on your door sometime this summer as the town embarks on a project to update their property records.”

Alas, that’s not correct. The grammar, that is. “Town” is a singluar, not a plural. Thus it should be “…its property records,” not “their.”

Safety Questions and More
11 years ago

Will every inspector have an extensive background check? If we ask to see a badge….how do we know the badge is legitimate? Can the police department handle that many extra verification calls each day? Should they?

Could the letter to the homeowner include a photo ID of all inspectors? (to take some of the burden off of the police department). If the inspectors are using personal vehicles, could the town consider magnetic signs with an official town ID?

For the record, I typically do not open my door to strangers. A random visit will most likely find me “not home”. When the water department needed access, didn’t they make appointments?

If a homeowner’s dog bites an inspector or if an inspector is accused of wrongdoing, who is liable?

Is this a basement to attic, closet to cubby inspection? Outbuildings, garage? Has this ever been done before? If so, when?

In this day and age, having a stranger photograph any part of my property for permanent record leaves me feeling uneasy.

Is this type of inspection legal?

More information please… “a project to update their property records” is a bit vague. How does this help the town? The resident?

Al Hamilton
11 years ago


This process is more or less “normal”. Your taxes are set by 3 numbers. The value of your taxable property, the value of all taxable property, and the amount raised by town meeting.

The ratio of the value of your taxable property to all the taxable property in town determines your share of the amount that Town Meeting raised.

The process of revaluing all the property in town on a regular basis to assure that the tax burden is fairly distributed is the job of the Assessor and the Board of Assessors. In order to do this job accurately the Board of Assessors would like to do an interior inspection of your home. However, you are under no obligation to grant them access.

11 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

i am going to have to go with the “no obligation to grant them access” unless all of valid points/questions that Safety Questions and More have brought up.

also adding: what will happen if the Inspector, because he/she finds your home so fascinating trips down a flight of stairs and hurts themselves–who is responsible then? Surely not my homeowners policy

Paul Cibelli - Principal Assessor - Town of Southborugh
11 years ago

It has been brought to my attention that some residents have questions and concerns regarding The Board of Assessors measure and list project that will begin 5/20/13. Having just read several of the recent postings, I can see the imaginations of several individuals are begining to run wild and the conspiracy theorists are lining up to offer various hypothises on why such inspections are being conducted and how many of your consititional rights are about to be violated.

I am therefore going to take this opportunity to explain the purpose of this project as well as the process in an attempt to answer questions or concerns that may arise.

What is a Measure and List Program? – The Department of Revenue’s Bureau of Local Assessment requires the Board of Assessor in each community to inspect all property located within their community every nine years. The purpose of such a program is to make sure the physical data on each property is accurate. It is this property data along with the annual analysis of arms-length real estate sales and market conditions that is the basis for our valution model which is used to establish assessments each year. Our goal is to produce assessments that are fair and equitable. Accurate data helps tremendously in achieving this goal.

What is the process??? The Board of Assessors has contracted with Real Estate Research Inc (RRC) to assist us with this project. A letter from the Assessors will be mailed to each home owner approximately 1-2 weeks before anybody comes to your home notifying you that the data collectors are in your neighborhood. The Assessors will provide the data collector with a property record card for each home that contains a sketch of the house and various phyisical data componets that need verifying. The data collectors job is simply to verify and update the data we have on file regarding your home. Data collectors do not determine the value of your home, which is the role of the Assessors. After identifying themselves, the data collector will begin by verifying exterior dimensions of the home and take a front and rear photo. Interior inspections are necessary to verify data such as total room count, # of bedrooms, # of baths, type of heat, # of fireplaces, overall condition of the house, etc….

At this point I want to make one issue crystal clear to everyone involved…THESE INSPECTIONS ARE COMPLETELY VOLUNTARY!!!

If you feel uncomfortable in any way participating in this program, please inform the data collector when he identifies himeself to you at your door. Despite rumors, the data collectors will not be kicking in doors and helping themselves to your privacy. All that we can do is hope you have an understanding of what we are trying to accomplish – fair and equitable assessments – and ask for your cooperation in fulfilling our duties.

Once the data collector has completed their inspection, they will ask for the owners signature on the back of the property record card verifiyng they have completed the inspection and move on the the next property. Inspections typically take 10-15 minutes and will occur during the day. If nobody is home, the data collector will leave a note on your door to call the Assessors for a follow-up appointment. If the data collector arrives at an inconvient time for you, please request a scheduled appoinment.

For those who have safety concrens – The Assessors have had a long time relationship with RRC and we are very familar with their staff. Each data collector will be wearing a company I.D. badge. A copy of their badge and car information will be on file with the police. We urge all home owners to check the data collectors badge before letting them into your home and if you have any question please call the Assessors.

Hopefully the information I have posted provides readers with some additional information about our project. If you have additional questions, I urge you to call us at the Assessors (508) 485-0720 so we can provide you with answers and accurate information about this project.

On behalf of the Board of Assessors and the staff, I would like to thank the residents of Southborough for their past and ongoing cooperation in our efforts to complete these required projects.


Paul T. Cibelli
Principal Assessor
Town of Southborough

John Kendall
11 years ago

Thanks for the information Paul.

Donna McDaniel
11 years ago

Another note: These inspections have been going on at regular intervals for at least 30 years.. And in every city and town in the Commonwealth. As Paul says, the purpose is to make certain all homes in all communities are fairly judged according to the same standards so that our assessments are based on same data.

mike fuce
11 years ago

Wow, what a great spring and thank God for Green and the Sun.

Let me preface this by saying I like the Town Administrator, I like Paul Cibelli, I like most town employees so this statement has nothing to do with any person contributing here it is the process and our intrusive big government which is getting more intrusive and larger by the moment folks. Do you understand there are fewer and fewer middle income folks to pay the taxes? I guess many don’t care about those folks in the “big houses”.

Do you understatnd how invasive this government has become in all aspects of our lives? In the above columns, there are all sorts of quotes about the law, and how long it has been done , and equitable this and that. But it is none of yours, or your governments business what is in your homes. Do you get it?

Very easy solution to this invasive procedure but it will not happen. I see one house on Strawberry Lane on the market for $775,000 today. I immediately look at the assessment on all new listings. It is assessed at $585,000. I see this repeatedly across real estate (under assessed home?). Our home is assessed at $646,000 and it would sell maybe for $675,000. That’s pretty colse and that’s what we pay taxes on. Your tax, should you be a home owner, should be an up to date assessment of the property in the neighborhood and placement of the home. The interior, and I know some realtors will blast me on this point, has very little to do with the interior. So if my house was a very high level interior it would sell for maybe $700,000. Not a big difference correct.

There is no need to go into anyones home. You like I should feel it is invasive, intrusive and offensive to have any government entering your home for any reason. This countries government is looking over our shouilders so close and knows so much about our individaul lives, it has become overbearing to our liberties and freedoms.

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