A Biased Line of Thinking
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This ‘new’ bias story really ticks me off. Click the link below to read it:
It was written by a notable self-promoter, the so-called “America’s Favorite Financial Educator”, also known as “The Budgetnista,” — Tiffany Aliche. I used to be in marketing. Those are clever. Perhaps even memorable. I question the first one, though, as I’ve never heard of Ms. Aliche until seeing the story and researching her. But I’m not black, either, so I guess that’s my problem.
Most of the story is based purely on emotion, playing the victim role, with just a smidgeon of facts about the appraisal she received on her home, which was to be used for a cash-out refi.
Ultimately, as the story relates, no refi was done, even though it appears that Tiffany, her husband and their lender could have ordered a second appraisal based on apparent errors in the first one. To me, there’s more to this situation than what is being revealed. But it makes for ‘good copy’ that promotes a structured… biased … line of thinking.
This is the first article I’ve seen that even provides a hint about the competency of the original appraiser. Why? Because, per the details, a second appraiser did a ‘review’ of the original report and definitely found issues with how the original appraiser qualified and apparently incorrectly reported the home’s quality and condition. That, of course, presumes the appraiser was given all the facts up front (during the home inspection or before), or really didn’t know anything about those until after the report was done.
The story also implies that new doorknobs and hinges drive the value. And that the hidden-in-the-wall copper pipes REALLY are copper. That demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the appraisal process.
The other circulating stories have been about getting different values with a second or third appraisal. But the details of the first report have not been revealed.
Tiffany’s article is less a story about perceived or made-up racial bias, than it is about observations and analysis the original appraiser did, and apparently made, when making certain decisions about the property, and deciding the ultimate value opinion.
It’s far too easy for the ‘race card’ to be waved as it was in this article, and the others that have been circulating. “I’m black, and you, Mr. Appraiser, are white. Therefore, you must have built-in racial bias that I won’t be able to overcome.”
Unfortunately for appraisers, this story is all part of a pattern and planned events which began in 2018 or even earlier, during a time of hope for major political change in this country. It was nothing hidden, although the deep seated roots of the campaign were not well publicized at the time, or even understood. Now that change has happened, race issues and critical theories have become the indelible emphasis of a great many people. It’s much like the current virus, infecting many. Will pending ‘inoculations’ (mandated training classes) help reverse the trend? Remains to be seen.
Yes, it’s true. Racial bias exists. Perpetuated by just about every human race on earth towards others who are not the same, and among those of the same race. It’s not just a black and white issue. Divisions among people across the globe for eons are well documented.
Appraisers DID NOT cause the black housing issues in this country. Appraisers DID NOT cause other races and indigenous people to be segregated. Appraisers DID NOT do the original red-lining.
But because we appraisers are fragmented, and a small segment of the financial world, it’s very easy to become the targets of the race baiters who just want to keep people agitated. Boy have they established a beach-head over the past few months.
Appraisers have got to quit holing up in their basement, cowering in their bathrobes and bunny slippers. Appraisers have to begin fighting back, becoming proactive, and tell the real story about how appraisals are done and the regulations we have to deal with. Remind people that land use issues were begun by others, not appraisers. Demonstrate how ‘we’ gather and analyze facts, and then carefully work toward a value opinion. Start local, by sending letters to your local news organizations. Post on social media. Tell your borrowers more about the process when you see them at their home.
All I’ve seen so far from our associations and organizations is limp reactive defensive posture, buying into the desired game plan of forcing appraisers to be indoctrinated with new training, promoted by those that have their own bias toward ‘us.’
The critical element in all this is appraisers must do their jobs correctly. Focus on property details and leave ‘race’ out of any decisions. If you cannot do that, I’d like to suggest a different line of work would be more appropriate.