Single father in Oakland fights home appraisal he considered low, new appraisal came in $150K higher

Julian Glover Image
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Single Oakland father gets new appraisal for $150K more in value
EMBED <>More Videos

An Oakland homeowner's house was appraised for $150,000 more after he had a white-passing friend stand in for him after a low appraisal.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- ABC7 News continues to lead the charge in looking into possible discrimination in the home appraisal process. Families of the color in the Bay Area are upset after they felt appraisals for their homes came in too low and they believe the color of their skin is a big factor.

Now, another homeowner is sharing his story with ABC7 News Race and Culture reporter Julian Glover.

"I'm dealing with discrimination at work, discrimination in other places, but for it to happen in your own house, it's extra insulting," said Saleem Shaheed.

RELATED: Black East Oakland homeowner beats system after lowballed $155K in appraisal

Shaheed, a single father, purchased his home in East Oakland near 98th Ave and Sunnyside Street in 2019 for $430,000.

As soon as he saw the property, he knew the house would be his home thanks to some help from his two kids.

"Once my children saw it, they were like 'that's the one'," said Shaheed. "My children made the decision for me."

After moving in he knew the home would need some repair work and he was eager to improve the property.

VIDEO: Black California couple lowballed by $500K in home appraisal, believe race was a factor

"We did a new roof, redid the children's bedrooms, redid the stairs, put a new gate in the front with an automatic opener," said Shaheed.

As he made improvements to the home, real estate values climbed steadily during the pandemic and interest rates fell.

Shaheed decided to refinance his mortgage to beat his current rate.

The first appraisal ordered on the home in November 2020 came in at $575,000 after he filed a rebuttal asking for a reconsideration of value following the initial report.

However, Shaheed was convinced he could find a better rate with a different lender.

After shopping around for a more competitive rate, he got hit with a $480,000 appraisal this January while applying for an FHA loan.

RELATED: State assembly holds hearing on racial disparities in housing

"It's hard to prove what was in the other gentleman's intentions. But even if it was just negligence or incompetence-it was to a level that it had to be something more," said Shaheed.

Despite Shaheed requesting a reconsideration of value and filing a complaint with the California Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers, the appraiser declined to increase the appraised value.

The initial report inaccurately listed the home as having one bathroom instead of one and a half baths and claimed there were "no updates in the prior 15 years" even though Shaheed said he informed the appraiser beforehand the roof was replaced months earlier.

ABC7 News reached out to the appraiser via phone several times and didn't hear back.

The e-mail listed on the appraisal report bounced back.

VIDEO: Bay Area Black, Latina real estate couple lowballed $250K in home appraisal

Shaheed stuck with the lender and was able to get a new appraisal by applying for a conventional loan.

This time he had a plan. He remembered ABC7's coverage of the Austin family in Marin City who staged their home to appear the residents were white.

ABC7 News interviewed the Austin's in February and shared their story of suspected discrimination in the appraisal process.

After the Austin's had a white friend stand in for them and replaced pictures and artwork throughout the home, the property appraised for $493,000 more.

"That's the reason why I wanted to (share my story), because watching those stories helped me through the process," said Shaheed.

Shaheed's friend who happens to be a realtor helped him stage the home.

RELATED: West Oakland family beats low appraisal by $70,000 after help from ABC7 News

"You might want to take down some photos, you may want someone else to step in and be there during the actual appraisal. Just things that we know could potentially devalue your home," said Bneeisha Williams.

Shaheed then asked his co-worker's white-passing daughter to stand in for him the day of the appraisal.

"I have a lot of privilege as white-passing as a half white and half Asian, but fair-skinned person," said Jade Le, his co-worker's daughter. "If I can use my privilege to do something, to help other people in the community, then why not?"

The home appraised for $630,000: two appraisals, barely two months apart with a $150,000 difference Shaheed thinks was largely because of race.

"It doesn't feel good to have somebody come and stand in and then we get a higher value all of a sudden," he said.

After poring over the reports the big difference we noted are the comparable homes selected by the appraisers.

The average adjusted home value of the six comps listed for the January appraisal is $428,000.

TAKE ACTION: Find resources to help with equality, justice and race issues

Compare that to the average adjusted home value of $625,000 in the April appraisal.

The comps selected by the January appraiser were worth $197,000 less on average.

The comparable homes in the same report also focused on areas North and West of Shaheed's property.

The homes in the April appraisal were pulled from every direction: one to the North, East, Southwest, and West.

After 10 months, Shaheed is hopeful he'll finally be able to refinance the property to lower his mortgage and help pay for additional improvement.

RELATED: Prominent activists, allies consider what 'Black Freedom' looks like to them ahead of Juneteenth

He's also hopeful joining the list of families who have shared their story with ABC7 News will help lead to a solution.

"It's unfortunate that there are so many, however, becoming a collective, bringing everybody together that's probably the only way that any real change is going to happen," said Shaheed.

If you are going through a refinance and feel like you've been hit with a low appraisal it's your right to challenge the report after you've reviewed it and ask the lender for a reconsideration of value.

If you feel you were treated unfairly by an appraiser, you also can file a complaint with state and federal agencies.

Here's the website to file a complaint with the California Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers.

Here's the website to file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

You have one year following the incident to file a complaint with HUD.

You have two years after the incident to file a lawsuit.