Merkley, Wyden, Colleagues Urge Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council to Address Racial Disparities in Housing Appraisal Industry
Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden joined a group of 34 lawmakers in urging the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council to work with the housing appraisal industry to address massive differences in home costs for communities of color.
Recent reports have shown significant disparities in the assessments of home valuations for white families and families of color—in fact, a 2018 Brookings Institute report found that homes in majority-black neighborhoods are valued at roughly half the price as homes in neighborhoods with no black residents. Furthermore, the Appraisal Institute recently acknowledged the need to address unconscious racial bias in home valuations. The Appraisal Institute’s statement came after a Northern California couple made national news when their home was appraised for roughly $500,000 more after they had a white friend pose as the homeowner during a second appraisal.
In the letter, the legislators highlight data on racial disparities in home appraisals, the connection between home values and intergenerational wealth, and the significant gap in black and white homeownership rates, concluding: “Given the critical connection between homeownership and wealth, as well as the longstanding structural barriers to homeownership for families of color, it is crucial that appraisers accurately and impartially assess the values of Americans’ homes. Therefore, we encourage FFIEC to work with appraisers to reduce the racial appraisal gap and to address the long-term undervaluation of neighborhoods of color.”