• September 17, 2021

Exclusive: Black family hangs photos of white neighbors and appraisal comes back nearly $100,000 higher

 Exclusive: Black family hangs photos of white neighbors and appraisal comes back nearly $100,000 higher


The Parkers suspected they knew the answers to those questions, so they asked a white neighbor to borrow photos of their family in preparation for another appraisal, essentially to pose as a white family. Their children, however, couldn’t understand why Mommy and Daddy were replacing their photos and words of cultural affirmation with photos of their white neighbors. “That was the most crushing part of it all,” Erica told the Enquirer. “To talk to your 3- and 6-year-old and explain that sometimes, because of the color of our skin, people treat us differently. I explained to her (the oldest) we’re going to give people grace and assume that’s not the case, but that mommy and daddy are testing something out to see if that was happening and if it was, we’d take care of it.”

The second appraisal came in at $557,000—$92,000 higher than the first one, the Enquirer reported on Monday. “In the Black community, we know selling your home means take down your pictures. Don’t be present. As soon as I told my dad about our experience, he said, ‘why was Erica home? Why didn’t you take down your pictures?’ He knew right away,” Aaron said. “That’s unfortunate.”

Andre Perry, a Brookings fellow working on a study about the effects of racial bias in housing on Black communities, told the Enquirer homes in Black areas are undervalued by an average of $48,000, totaling $156 billion in losses. Carlette Duffy, another Black homeowner, conducted a similar experiment to the Parkers after her home’s second appraisal and saw the value of her home increase from $125,000 and $110,000 to $259,000 with a white friend standing in“This is real,” she told the Indianapolis Star.

Yet and still, Aaron told the Enquirer that people always doubt systemic racism. “Since we’ve shared our story, it’s been thrown out there, and probably will continue, that it was just one bad appraiser. And you can always say ‘it’s just one bad apple’ we hear that all the time,” he said. “But even if it’s still partially true, the lender in our case didn’t hear our concerns and order another appraisal.” 

Officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) told the Enquirer in a statement that housing discrimination can lead to recurring inequity. “Homeownership is the principal source of wealth for most American households and properly setting a home’s value is critical to wealth creation for families and communities,” officials said. “The devaluation of property makes a family least likely to build or pass intergenerational wealth to children.”

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge assembled a task force, the Interagency Task Force for Property Appraisal Valuation Equity, to address appraisal discrimination earlier this year. “PAVE will join forces with businesses and local leaders to forge a more equitable America; where every person gets a fair chance at building their wealth,” Fudge tweeted in July, when she announced the task force.

Organizers laid out as their goals:

  • Coordinating efforts to evaluate and identify the extent of, causes and factors that contribute to the persistent misvaluation and devaluation of assets. This includes evaluating issues related to biased appraisals in mortgage transactions and Automated Valuation Models (AVMs).
  • To the greatest extent feasible, coordinating agencies’ guidance, enforcement efforts, and monitoring authority. This may include reviewing of valuation related authorities enforced by federal entities, determining areas of commonality and conflict, and creating a framework for appropriate information sharing among agencies with enforcement authorities regarding coordinated enforcement and compliance, respecting enforcement independence.
  • Leveraging the authority of the Appraisal Subcommittee to strengthen oversight of the Appraisal Foundation, encourage diversity of State Appraisal regulatory agencies, and create opportunities for transparent data sharing.
  • To the greatest extent feasible, coordinating data collection and reporting, maintaining data repositories (contingent upon feasibility and legal opinion).
  • Recommending and implementing actions within agencies’ authorities, including concrete steps that federal, state, and local governments and industry will take as expeditiously as possible.
  • Coordinating efforts to evaluate and identify the extent of, causes and factors that contribute to the persistent misvaluation and devaluation of assets. This includes evaluating issues related to biased appraisals in mortgage transactions and Automated Valuation Models (AVMs).
  • To the greatest extent feasible, coordinating agencies’ guidance, enforcement efforts, and monitoring authority. This may include reviewing of valuation related authorities enforced by federal entities, determining areas of commonality and conflict, and creating a framework for appropriate information sharing among agencies with enforcement authorities regarding coordinated enforcement and compliance, respecting enforcement independence.
  • Leveraging the authority of the Appraisal Subcommittee to strengthen oversight of the Appraisal Foundation, encourage diversity of State Appraisal regulatory agencies, and create opportunities for transparent data sharing.
  • To the greatest extent feasible, coordinating data collection and reporting, maintaining data repositories (contingent upon feasibility and legal opinion).
  • Recommending and implementing actions within agencies’ authorities, including concrete steps that federal, state, and local governments and industry will take as expeditiously as possible.

The task force has laid out a timeline of 180 days to deliver an action report describing “the extent, causes, and consequences of undervaluing of properties” and releasing action items related to undervaluing properties that industry leaders commit to addressing. HUD officials have also provided a resource page on their website about how to file a complaint, an offering the Parkers took advantage of.

Erica told the Enquirer that as a Black person you have to prioritize your battles wisely or “you’re going to be fighting every day.” This particular battle is one she and her husband chose to prioritize after having to explain discrimination to their young children. “I didn’t want to shatter their innocence,” Erica said. “Growing up Black, you already have so many things to deal with, and they shouldn’t have to feel that so young. I was trying to be structured in how I was going to break it to them, but this situation took that away from me.”

RELATED: A tale of two appraisals: White man gets $100K higher value than Black woman

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