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Opinion: The thing Black families do before selling a home

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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.

I have worked in the suburbs for most of my career. Rapidly gentrifying Washington, DC, where most single-family home buyers and sellers are high-income white families. But if the seller was a person of color, the advice I gave them was simple. Before you sell your home, “de-ethnicize” it.

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.

When I recently read about another, even more egregious, incident involving a black couple in Maryland, I nodded again in familiar recognition. home appraisal $300,000 higher after a white couple stepped in.
A black woman in Indianapolis last year said, appraised value of her house Doubled when a white friend stood in for her. The list goes on and on.

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.

But what we see in black families and other people of color is historical. entrenched racism that pervasive in the industry. history This kind of discrimination is long and deep. And since homeownership is the primary way most people achieve that goal, when it comes to accumulating wealth, they’ve conspired to keep blacks swimming upstream.

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.

Black couple files lawsuit after white colleague says home's valuation has increased by nearly $300,000

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.

Sadly, inconsistencies in the appraisal process are just one of the myriad ways the real estate industry has historically been very unfriendly to Blacks and Browns. It is well known that there were benefits of the GI bill that enabled home ownership and gave many white Americans financial security and a stepping stone to pass wealth to their heirs for later generations. Rejected by black veteransBecause banks don’t give loans to black community homes.And of course black future homeowners couldn’t buy a house In white suburbs because of discrimination.
Homes in black neighborhoods are also historically devalued.a 2018 survey According to the Brookings Institution, homes in black neighborhoods were determined to have a 23% lower valuation than comparable homes in white neighborhoods.Another study conducted last year redfin We found that, on average, homes in black neighborhoods were valued $46,000 less than homes in similar white neighborhoods. As researchers at Brookings University put it, “Our findings are broadly consistent with the prevalence of anti-black prejudice.”
And even if they were able to buy a home, Black homeowners often struggle to refinance to get better interest rates. According to a 2021 report commissioned by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), the surge in home refinancing “has saved an estimated $5.8 billion in future mortgage payments. Of that amount, Only $198 million Captured by black homeowners. ”
Are you a black homeowner who faced discrimination while navigating the housing market?
So, against the backdrop of real estate’s deplorable history for blacks, lowball valuations are the same and a very troubling pattern.in fact they prohibited by law from doing so.

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.

Avena Horton certainly did. told the New York Times After shockingly low ratings for her Florida home: “It’s common knowledge in the black community to remove pictures when selling a home. thought.”

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.

according to appraisal laboratoryJapan’s largest association of real estate appraisers, Over 85% of appraisers is white. We need more diversity in an industry that has great power to hurt and help people of color.
remote appraisal It can also be useful in many cases. This completely removes the possibility of human bias and helps solve the problem. Lack of appraisersThe White House also said it recognizes that too low ratings are hurting people of color, formed a task force Examine it.

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.

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