However, when the appraisal became suspiciously low, the Hortons made a second appraisal. This time, we removed any items that the appraiser might suspect that the house was inhabited by African Americans. Sure enough, the second appraisal brought her to $465,000. This is $115,000 more for him than before the house was “whitewashed.”
I read the story with interest, but also with some regrettable realizations. As a black person, I pay close attention to racial issues. And as a realtor with over 30 years of experience (technically speaking, I’m a former real estate agent since I retired last year), I see a lot of the ways the industry is plagued with built-in biases and pitfalls. fully aware of Homeowners of color.
If you are a black home owner, you should clear the shelves of family reunion photos and remove Africa-centric art from the walls. Said that the Ganesha statue must be taken down from the cloak until it is completed.
To be fair, even if the seller is Caucasian, the real estate agent may tell you to remove family photos and other personal belongings. I don’t want them to be reminded of the family that lives there now.
It’s always a bit awkward when families put their homes up for sale and tell them to remove all evidence of their cultural or racial background. Negative associations seem to come to mind if the house belongs to people of color.
I have tried to be as open as possible with my clients. Let them know that people have stereotypes and prejudices and leave them alone. Regardless of a potential buyer’s conscious or unconscious bias, it should not prevent a client from making as much money as possible.
While it’s true that the value of a home can be somewhat subjective (depending, for example, on how it was maintained or upgraded), the parameters for evaluating a home’s value are fairly clear. Given the condition of the home being refinanced, if the home was sold in a neighborhood or nearby comparable area.
Based on that, there’s no room to explain how homes are rated so differently when you look at homes owned by blacks and homes owned by whites. What devalues these homes is the simple fact that they were inhabited by black and brown bodies. It’s not that far from the idea that you shouldn’t drink water. That’s the very definition of racism.
What continues to amaze me is that many white people, even real estate professionals, seem surprised to learn about this discriminatory treatment of African Americans in dealing with the industry. But in my experience, black home sellers are rarely surprised. We all received a note that the house needed to be painted white.
So what can be done to stem the problem of racism in ratings? The industry can start by hiring more color appraisers to help identify and eradicate discriminatory practices. Ensure all appraisers receive the training they need.
And if none of these solutions work, there is another proven solution. It’s a legal action. In at least some of the highly publicized cases, the family in question has filed a lawsuit against the expert witness. If enough lawsuits are filed against an industry that appears to be failing to solve the problem of bias, I suspect that appraisal firms will take note and clean up the act.