Black Homeowners Face Discrimination in Appraisals
After the first appraisal came up short on his house in an affluent, racially mixed suburb of Hartford, Conn., Stephen Richmond, an aerospace engineer, took down family photos and posters for Black movies and had a white neighbor stand in for him on a second appraisal. He was hoping to refinance; with the second report, he saw his home's value go up $40,000 from the initial appraisal just a few weeks earlier.
In 2000, the American actor and comedian D.L. Hughley had an appraisal on his home in the Montevista Estates neighborhood of West Hills, a primarily white area in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. Despite a steady uptick in the housing market and the addition of a pool and new hardwood floors, the house was appraised for nearly what he had bought it for three years earlier - $500,000.
In Mr. Hughley's case, his bank flagged the report.
"They were like, this has to be some kind of mistake because in order for your house to have come in this low, it would have to be in some level of disrepair," Mr. Hughley said.
The bank ordered a new appraisal, which came back $160,000 higher, and Mr. Hughley went on to sell the home for $770,000.
In 2018, researchers from Gallup and the Brookings Institution published a report on the widespread devaluation of Black-owned property in the United States, which they discussed in a 2019 hearing before the House Financial Services Subcommittee. The report found that a home in a majority Black neighborhood is likely to be valued for 23 percent less than a near-identical home in a majority-white neighborhood; it also determined this devaluation costs Black homeowners $156 billion in cumulative losses.