Editorial Roundup: Indiana

 
 
Updated 4/20/2022 3:13 PM

Anderson Herald Bulletin. April 18, 2022.

Editorial: Open the door for all to own homes

 

Last year, a married Black couple wanted to sell their Cincinnati, Ohio, house at a list price of $525,000. They got an offer in the low $500,000s.

But then an appraiser set the home value at $465,000, almost $42,000 lower than the agreed-upon price. The couple removed family photos, artwork and even a daughter's superhero pictures - anything that indicated they were Black. The second appraisal came in at $557,000.

In another case, a California couple saw their home value increase by $500,000 after a white woman stood in for them for a valuation assessment.

The two reports of bias in the housing market are not rare. A 2018 study by the Brookings Institution found that owner-occupied residences in Black neighborhoods are undervalued by $48,000 per home on average, amounting to $156 billion nationally in cumulative losses.

Cities were studied by comparing homes in majority Black neighborhoods with those where less than 1% of the residents were Black. For example, in Muncie, which is mentioned in the study, the median home value in a Black neighborhood was $58,735, about $7,069 less than in a neighborhood with few Blacks residents.

In February, the National Association of Realtors released its 'œ2022 Snapshot of Race and Home Buying in America' report, examining racial disparities in the housing market. Five percent of the Black respondents said they had witnessed or experienced racial discrimination in appraisals, similar to the above two examples.

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That may seem low but other factors were more startling.

Topping the list: 46% of Black people said they had been steered away from or toward specific neighborhoods during a real estate transaction. The same discriminatory action was reported by 50% of Hispanics/Latinos, 48% of Asians and 35% of white people.

Responding to the study, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said, 'œUnfortunately, NAR's report confirms that Black Americans are being locked out of homeownership opportunities at an even higher rate than a decade ago.

'œIt is critical that we bridge the racial homeownership gap with intentional solutions that recognize both the persistent history of discrimination and inequity, and the current crisis of housing affordability.'

On March 29, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters opened a hearing on appraisal discrimination with the House Committee on Financial Services, of which she is chairwoman. She noted, 'œStudies have found that a home in a White neighborhood is valued two times higher than comparable homes in Black and Latinx neighborhoods.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

She plans to introduce the Fair Appraisal and Inequity Reform Act of 2022 to help curb appraisal discrimination.

But until then, anyone involved in a real estate transaction should help expand access to credit for groups that have experienced systemic discrimination; help make home ownership more available for those with student loan debt, which all too often can be a immediate red flag to lenders; and promote programs, many already existing, to support sustainable home ownership.

Appraisers and real estate agents must knock down discriminatory barriers and open the door for home ownership to all.

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This story was first published on April 19. It was updated on April 20 to remove an editorial by the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on the food and beverage tax because the newspaper is withdrawing the editorial.

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