Mary Cummins, Real Estate Appraiser, Animal Advocates, Los Angeles, California

Mary Cummins, Real Estate Appraiser, Animal Advocates, Los Angeles, California
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Monday, July 26, 2021

Racial discrimination alleged by Cora Robinson in real estate appraisal 5924 Martin Luther King, Oakland, California - by Mary Cummins

cora robinson, oakland, california, real estate, appraisal, discrimination, 5924 martin luther king, duplex, bias, mary cummins
cora robinson, oakland, california, real estate, appraisal, discrimination, 5924 martin luther king, duplex, bias, mary cummins

01/04/2022 UPDATE: Based on a response to my FOIA response from HUD I believe the discrimination complaint filed with HUD was dismissed. HUD has not given an official answer though the investigation is over. They did previously force me to refile in order to extend the time to reply. HUD is fighting these FOIA requests forcing appeals. Because Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California didn't release any news saying they won the case it appears they lost. This was just another fake, frivolous discrimination complaint filed against an appraiser promoting the false narrative that appraisers are racists who low ball black home borrowers. 

ORIGINAL: Julian Glover just covered another story of alleged racial discrimination in a real estate appraisal in Oakland, California. After he ran his first story I contacted him via email and Twitter. Julian Glover never replied. 

The owner of the home is Cora Robinson. The home in question which they specifically mention in their public report is 5924 Martin Luther King, Oakland, California. The address is also public if you search for Cora Robinson's name. The author of the article included this information which is why I'm using it here. First, some facts.

5924 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland, California 94609 is legally a 4 bed, 2 bath, 1.5 story home built 1885, 2,336 sf on 6,000 sf end lot. It's listed as last renovation 1940. I searched building and safety and see no permits for any upgrades or additions. The owners were in default in 2012, 2013. It appears one of them runs a hair salon called Your Locs out of one unit which I don't  believe is allowed per zoning. Please, no one report the business or unpermitted additional bedroom, bathroom. Times are tough enough. 

Zillow lists the home as 5 bed, 3 bath with a current AVM or automatic valuation method Zestimate of $1.2M, range $1M-$1.4M. RedFin estimates $1.1M. Trulia $1.2M. RealtyTrac estimates it as a 4 bed, 2 bath home at $1M. Realtor estimates it at $1.2M. CoreLogic refuses to give an AVM or RealValue because it hasn't sold in a long time and doesn't appear to have recent renovations. Their error variance is too high to give an estimate or even a guesstimate. 

Now for some allegations. July 2020 Cora Robinson said it appraised at $800K which would have been within the range of the AVMs at that time. Cora said Zillow was $1.3M at the time which is false. I'm glad she didn't white wash her home before the last appraisal. All appraisers saw the same exact home in the same condition. Oct 2020 appraisal came in at $825K. February 2021 it appraised at $1.2M. March 2021 she got a new 1st loan at $606K which is about 50% loan to value ratio which is a very low ratio. 

Cora states the property, area is not subject to rent control. Yes, it is. Just because she has a relative currently living there doesn't mean the next owner would be free of rent control. Cora states it's in the higher demand area of Rockridge. It's not. It's three neighborhoods south on the other side of the freeway. Cora states the appraiser made two appraisals. He made only one which he appears to have updated. Cora stated the "bad" appraiser used comps with "nearby homeless encampments, liquor stores, trash on the sidewalk, greater structural neglect and other markers of poverty." If you look at the satellite image of the subject property, that describes the subject's area exactly. There's a liquor store on the corner of Cora's block and a homeless camp one block away! Is this lady for real? She wanted the appraiser to use a $1.6M comp from Rockridge which is a mile north, north of the 24 fwy and a much better more expensive area. Cora said the "good" appraiser used comps "in all directions." We are supposed to use the best comps and not comps in "all directions." Cora thinks the appraiser should have only used higher comps located northwest of her home in the nicer "whiter" area of Rockridge. Cora literally said that the appraiser used comps in areas which have more black people i.e. "has a higher percentage of black residents" which Cora states has a negative effect on value. Who is the racist and biased one here?! Just to be clear Cora is black saying these negative things about black people and how they negatively affect property value. These are direct quotes from her actual written and sworn complaint! 

Cora received the home for free from her mother who received it for free from her grandmother. Cora states she was paying about 7 to 13% interest rate on her mortgage which she got in 2008 at the peak of then prices and interest rates. Everyone knows those loans were predatory. To be paying on that loan all those years is crazy. We're clearly dealing with someone who doesn't understand real estate or finance. She feels she should be paid the difference between that higher rate and her current rate. That is ridiculous. Cora agreed to the terms of the old mortgage. The lender is the one who refused the new loan. The main reason for loan refusal is the credit rating of the borrower. Cora states she is retiring which means refinancing again will be impossible. I believe an appraisal done by any appraiser at the earlier time would have been much lower than the current appraisal. You can't "sue" an appraiser for market value. No money was lost here. The appraiser also only works for the AMC and lender not the owner of the property. 

The home is an end lot on a very, very busy street with what appears to be a Metro train which then turns into a highway, see pic below of the subject property taken from across the Metro. 

cora robinson, oakland, california, real estate, appraisal, discrimination, 5924 martin luther king, duplex, bias, mary cummins
cora robinson, oakland, california, real estate, appraisal, discrimination, 5924 martin luther king, duplex, bias, mary cummins


There are apartment buildings on the street, vacant lot, homeless camp, trash, liquor store. These things reflect negatively on the value. There are more regular lots than end lots which would skew the value higher for all duplexes in the area. I see current comparable sales at $800,000 to $1,500,000 with most $900,000 to $1,100,000. The sales at the lower end were end lots which have not been fully recently renovated. The sales at the higher end are regular lots away from traffic, apartment buildings which have been very recently fully renovated. These comps were given to me by robots. I don't have MLS for this area so I can't actively search it. No one can say I discriminated in my search for comparables as I didn't actively search beyond typing in the address. 

I just used a robot to do a default search for the property which is +/- 20% size within one mile radius. I only changed it to search for the previous 12 months. The comps I found for when it was appraised the first and second time were $755,000 and $850,000 which were right next to the subject, newer, larger and had more bedrooms, baths. The robot refused to search properties in Rockridge which is actually three communities and over a mile away. The more recent comps are $1.1M, $1.1M, $1.0M and $1.3M. I haven't seen the inside of the properties. They could have been and probably are full remodels. I saw some pics of the subject online. It's an old remodel which needs a full remodel. This claim is now officially busted. 

Below is the map from the search. Maybe this is what Cora means when she stated all the comps were in one direction in the first two appraisals. Most are in one direction even though I pulled a mile radius. Cora's area has commercial, retail, vacant lots, hospital... Maybe there are fewer duplexes in that area. See how far away Rockridge is from the subject, i.e. bottom right of the map. There are cute restaurants, shops, trendy grocery stores, nice parks in Rockridge. In North Oakland there aren't even any fast food chain stores. Fast food chain stores heavily research locations. A location without them has many negative issues. You can get food at the liquor store or the gas station in Cora's neighborhood. Look at the satellite image.

cora robinson, oakland, california, real estate, appraisal, discrimination, 5924 martin luther king, duplex, bias, mary cummins
cora robinson, oakland, california, real estate, appraisal, discrimination, 5924 martin luther king, duplex, bias, mary cummins


Median sales price for a duplex this size in this area went from $900,000 to $1,200,000 within the last 12 months. That's a year from Cora Robinson's first appraisal. The property has gone up in value immensely between the time of the first and last appraisal. As I look at the chart it was about flat July 2020 to January 2021 then it went from $900,000 to $1,200,000. That's a 33% increase in value right there. The appreciation in this area has been skyrocketing because it's such an inexpensive area compared to other local areas. People who are priced out of the more expensive areas of Oakland are going to these less expensive areas. The duplexes selling for more have been recently fully renovated. I bet there are flippers buying run down properties and fixing them up for much higher resale which is driving a lot of the increase in value. The combination of flippers and people being priced out of more expensive areas has driven the explosion in value in this area. 

Based on the information about the subject property and the sold comparables I researched the first and second values could have been correct for that time. Based on the same a higher more recent appraised value would have been within the more recent range of values. It's also possible the more recent appraisal came in a little high per the real bed/bath count, location and condition of the subject. I have a feeling the appraiser will be cleared of wrong doing in this specific case. I did an information act request and will post the results when I receive them. They don't release them until after the investigation is finished. 

Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California released a press release stating they are helping Cora Robinson file a complaint to HUD. The complaint is an online form. She didn't need any help filling it out. It's easier than filling out a loan application. I personally feel this non-profit organization released this news for media attention to get donations. They should have hired a review appraiser to review the appraisals before submitting the complaint. They have most likely destroyed the reputation of the appraiser whose name they plastered all over their national press release, articles and media outreach. 

FOIA request was made for all information related to the complaint. Results will be posted here. 

Based on my review of a few of these alleged cases of racism in appraising it appears some of these cases partly stem from the lay person not understanding the appraisal, appraisal process or appraised value. Because they don't understand everything, have experienced racism in the past in other ways, have seen the recent false and misleading news articles about racism in appraising they assume racism must be the cause of the value. People misunderstand situations and jump to the wrong conclusions every day. It would be great if people could first ask the appraiser, lender questions before assuming it was racism and attacking the appraiser, profession and all people of a different race/color. Assuming things about people of a specific race/color without evidence is actually the definition of racism. It's hypocritical for someone claiming racism to behave in a racist manner.

Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.


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