Independent Fee Appraisers Under Attack
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Appraisers, I have reached my boiling point about the negative press ‘we’ Independent Fee Appraisers have been receiving for many months – concerning supposed ‘systemic racial bias.’
It’s been done on purpose by a particular group of individuals whose main strategic objective is to keep many citizens teetering on their toes, always on the defensive, while the perpetrators claim they’ve been oppressed. It’s part of a new ‘culture’ of divisiveness promulgated by negative promoting people hell bent on disrupting society. There is no ‘unity’ in what they are doing. Only attacks.
These stories make it seem like ‘we’ Independent Fee Appraisers are the only ones responsible for housing discrimination. That is patently false. But I also don’t see very many any in our industry standing up to the falsehoods being presented.
Housing discrimination started with GOVERNMENT actions to a great deal, who forced individual citizen and neighborhood changes, perpetuated by prevailing citizen attitudes across the country. All races and indigenous peoples have been affected.
Independent Fee Appraisers did not cause housing discrimination, nor have ‘we’ selectively oppressed vast numbers of races as have GOVERNMENT officials – for nearly 2.5 centuries in the US. This has been going on between peoples for as long as humans have been on this planet, roughly 6-8 THOUSAND years.
Independent Fee Appraisers have only been recognized in this country since the 1930’s.
I want to see Rep. Maxine Waters hold another “appraisal” hearing, but this time subpoena county, commonwealth and parish jurisdiction elected and appointed assessment appraisers as witnesses. Prime people to testify are those from the cities Andre Perry and team identified in their Brookings Institution Report. Have the assessors explain how they determine the LOCAL ASSESSED VALUES across their jurisdictions, especially if there are notable differences between identifiable neighborhoods, particularly where red-lining used to be the norm.
Housing values are the result of ‘assessments’ for government taxation purposes, which began in the late 1700’s in the US. Local property assessors established the initial valuation roles, and rules. Over the years, assessed areas have had assessed values change depending on actions of people in their local communities. Independent Fee Appraisers did not cause the value change. But appraised values, when done correctly, without bias, tend to correlate with government ASSESSED values.
It should be noted that the Brookings Institution Report produced by Andre Perry, et al, uses that exact concept, “the value of assets” without specifically mentioning how local Assessors have been the primary valuers of local properties. You can read the Report here.
The 2018 report, and the subsequent testimony of Mr. Perry at the 2019 congressional hearing, cleverly, and incorrectly, lays blame on Independent Fee Appraisers, implying that it’s ‘us’ who are the wrong-doers in the property value differences. It was used to establish a policy platform for political purposes.
“Biden will establish a national standard for housing appraisals that ensures appraisers have adequate training and a full appreciation for neighborhoods and do not hold implicit biases because of a lack of community understanding.”
Really? Will local ASSESSORS also be required to attend the training sessions (like are being forced on Independent Fee Appraisers) to gain a full appreciation for the biases that may exist in their offices, and get those changed? Will they then begin to raise property values? Will they be prepared for the backlash when the assessed taxes increase in those areas? That’s the real catch 22 that no one seems to understand. Higher taxes will lead to less affordability for the affected people.
Will the GSE’s and others change their appraisal policies to allow ‘any’ property, no matter how far away, to be used as a comparable to a subject in a current “area of bias”? That’s also a conundrum no one has addressed yet.
Racism in housing has been permitted to exist because of the way GOVERNMENTS have conducted themselves for decades. GOVERNMENTS, and even biased private organizations like the KKK, HOA’s and others, are the ones who have valued areas in this country based on racial biases, NOT Independent Fee Appraisers.
Independent Fee Appraisers are observers and reporters of facts within their communities. “We” do not establish overall neighborhood values. Values are determined by participants in the selling/buying process, which is a market force, not initially structured or actually influenced by Independent Fee Appraisers.
Independent Fee Appraisers are obligated to perform their appraisals according to established regulations and lending guidelines. If ‘we’ do the work correctly, using appropriate properties in reasonable proximity to the subject, then how can Independent Fee Appraisers be blamed for not valuing subject properties higher if market trend info does not support higher values?
Secondly, not discussed often by the ‘blame appraiser pundits’, are the vast number of non-appraiser, electronic algorithm AVM’s being used for lending purposes, and for the mass appraisals jurisdiction assessors use. Where do those get their data from? Do they choose to use properties from higher value neighborhoods when establishing their computerized property value in a low value neighborhood? Probably not. And neither do experienced Independent Fee Appraisers.
All the stories I’ve seen so far are hit pieces against Independent Fee Appraisers to make it appear that housing discrimination is all ‘our’ fault, which is patently wrong and unfair.
I’m not saying that there are some appraisers who are biased and perform improperly. They should be exposed and removed as appraisers. But the rest of ‘us’ do our work properly and should be recognized for that.
The inflammatory articles which have appeared to date use race baiting and victimhood as their basis, and broad brush all appraisers into one ‘anti-race’ category, which is a false premise. It’s the same point of view Mr. Perry has taken, which attempts to correlate processes used by current Independent Fee Appraisers with governmental actions that occurred many decades ago.
It’s a sleigh of hand trick to divert criticism from where it really needs to be placed.
It’s way beyond time for the various appraisal organizations at the national and state levels, industry trade magazines, plus local appraisers in their own communities to start refuting the negative stories about Independent Fee Appraisers, and tell the real story about how appraising is done… by Independent Fee Appraisers.