Appraisers Don’t Use Race
Appraisers don’t use race… Race is NEVER considered during a valuation
Last week in a congressional hearing on the future of the appraisal profession, some research was used to suggest appraisers are showing racial bias and essentially undervaluing black neighborhoods. I was not expecting the conversation to go that way during the hearing and I’ll admit I’m deeply concerned about the emerging narrative of appraisers being racists…
In the congressional hearing a panelist talked about a study that shows black neighborhoods are devalued by $48,000 compared to otherwise similar white neighborhoods. That’s alarming and society needs to have some serious discussion about this, but this study has NOTHING to do with appraisers actually devaluing properties (read it here). When we hear the word “devaluation” it sounds like we’re talking about something appraisers are doing, but the $48,000 price disparity comes from the author studying price trends from Zillow rather than analyzing the actions of appraisers. In other words, appraisers are NOT devaluing homes by $48,000. Yet when congress members heard “devaluation” and the speaker saying appraisers are part of the problem, the impression is that appraisers are clearly showing bias by devaluing properties based on race. This impression has certainly been passed on via social media too.
Locations aren’t the same: The market isn’t doing the same thing everywhere and buyers are not willing to pay the same prices everywhere either. This is why the appraised value can vary so widely – even if homes are identical in different neighborhoods. The speaker’s $48,000 price disparity between black and white neighborhoods is truly shocking, but frankly that’s not an appraisal issue. The appraiser’s job isn’t to ensure values are the same everywhere. Appraisers use neighborhood sales data to come up with value and it would be unethical to borrow “comps” from a higher-priced area to jack up prices in a lower-priced community (or vice versa).
Appraisers don’t use race when valuing homes.
By Ms. X. The author is a Certified Residential Appraiser and has chosen to remain anonymous to protect their identity.