Black homeowners say their homes are consistently appraised for less than those of their neighbors, stymying their path toward building equity and further perpetuating income equality in the United States, reports Debra Kamin:
Home appraisers, who work under codes of ethics but with little regulation and oversight, are often all that stands between the accumulation of home equity and the destruction of it for Black Americans.
After the first appraisal came up short on his house in an affluent, racially mixed suburb of Hartford, Conn., Stephen Richmond, an aerospace engineer, took down family photos and posters for Black movies and had a white neighbor stand in for him on a second appraisal. He was hoping to refinance; with the second report, he saw his home’s value go up $40,000 from the initial appraisal just a few weeks earlier.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, a federal ruling issued in March allowed appraisals for homes that were being sold to be done remotely in certain circumstances, temporarily pausing the need for interior home inspections. Those looking to refinance, however, still must complete an in-person appraisal.
In 2018, researchers from Gallup and the Brookings Institution published a report on the widespread devaluation of Black-owned property in the United States, which they discussed in a 2019 hearing before the House Financial Services Subcommittee. The report found that a home in a majority Black neighborhood is likely to be valued for 23 percent less than a near-identical home in a majority-white neighborhood; it also determined this devaluation costs Black homeowners $156 billion in cumulative losses.