'I feel vindicated': HUD launches task force to tackle biased home appraisals

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge announced a new task force aimed at tackling bias in appraisals, a move celebrated by fair housing advocacy groups.

Secretary Fudge announced the creation of the interagency Property Appraisal Valuation Equity (PAVE) task force to combat appraisal discrimination.

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Fudge made the announcement during a virtual event hosted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Policy Development and Research on how bias in the home valuation process and lack of diversity in the appraisal industry contributes to racial wealth disparities.

The news comes a month after President Biden addressed the issue during a press conference and tasked Fudge with finding solutions to appraisal discrimination.

"A home owned, to this day, by a Black American family is usually appraised at a lower rate than a home owned by a white family," said Biden during a June press conference.

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After seeing the story of a Marin City couple lowballed in what they believe was a racially biased appraisal. The Curtis family knew something wasn't right when they also received a low appraisal because both the husband and wife work in real estate.



Over the next six months the task force will look into the cause and consequences of misvaluation and undervaluation of properties.

HUD confirms the findings will include ideas to step up enforcement, strengthen appraisal practices at the federal and state level, and increase awareness among consumers and industry professionals.

Susan Rice, former ambassador to the United Nations and now domestic policy council director in the current administration, will join Fudge in overseeing the task force, according to a HUD memo.

Melody Taylor, a veteran HUD staffer with 20 years of experience in the office of fair housing and equal opportunity, takes on the role of executive director of the new initiative.

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Fair housing advocacy groups applaud the Biden administration for taking this decades-old issue head on.

"I hope what will happen is that consumers will feel comfortable, confident, and empowered to file complaints...and we can get better numbers in terms of the extent and nature of the problem," said Lisa Rice, National Fair Housing Alliance, President and CEO.

Rice served as a keynote speaker at the HUD event where the new task force was announced.

Research by the Brookings Institution shows Bay Area homes owned by Black residents in predominantly Black neighborhoods are undervalued by 27% on average compared to similar homes in white neighborhoods--a loss of $150 billion in equity nationwide.

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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.



ABC7 News has lead the charge on reporting on alleged acts of discrimination in the home appraisal process over the last six months.

Race and Culture Reporter Julian Glover has shared the stories of seven Bay Area families who believe they were hit with an appraisal so low they almost missed out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity during refinancing their mortgage.

Most recently, Oakland native Cora Robinson shared her story of alleged appraisal discrimination with ABC7 News that almost cost her $493,000 in equity.

HUD is now investigating Robinson's complaint, which claims an appraiser selected comparable homes for an appraisal during her refinance in neighborhoods with more Black residents and lower home values because she is Black.

"I think it's good for my case," said Robinson, reacting to the news of HUD's taskforce to address appraisal discrimination.

"No one would listen. No one would pay attention. I feel vindicated that this is actually being looked at at a higher level," said Robinson.

HUD said the task force will submit its findings in a report in six months.

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