There are a few people with their own agenda who are promoting the false narrative that black people must white wash their home when it's being appraised because real estate appraisers are racists who appraise black people's home lower than market value. That is absolutely false. Real estate appraisal is based on the home characteristics and recent sales only. Appraisers don't care about the race of the owner, tenant or buyer. We generally never even meet them or know what color they are. We only care about the structure and what other similar homes have sold for. We use the same methodology as Automated Valuation Methods which are robots who don't see any people or the home.
Sometimes a homeowner will tell me "I'm sorry my home is messy today." I generally jokingly tell them, "it's fine. The bank wouldn't care if you had dead bodies hanging in here. They only care about the structure and the value." That is the absolute truth. The bank just wants to make money on the loan. They want a full market value appraisal so they can make money. The appraiser wants the same. If we were to come in below market value, we'd never be hired again and lose money. There is absolutely no incentive for an appraiser to come in low.
A few media articles stated that a black family had their home appraised. The value was lower than they liked. They decided to white wash, stage their home and request a new appraisal. The second later appraisal came in higher. In this quickly appreciating market of course a later appraisal would be higher yet they attributed the rise in appraisal value to their white washing. They could have just changed the door mat and the same thing would have happened. With certain areas appreciating 30% in a year that turns out to 2.5% per month. With a $500,000 home the appreciation could be $25,000 in two months. The appreciation could be even higher if they first had it appraised it during a slower sales time of year then later reappraised during the peak sales times when there were more buyers, sales and higher sale prices. It would be even higher if it's an area that's being revitalized or as some say "gentrified." I've seen increases of 40-50% in a year in some of these gentrifying areas recently.
Racism is a huge problem in the US which we must try to eradicate. Racist things happen to people of color all the time. Since the murder of black George Floyd racism against black people has been a huge issue. That said not everything is due to racism. Many people's appraisals are coming in lower than expected because of the fast appreciation rate in the market. Closed and recorded sales lag 45-60 days behind contracts for sale. During that time home values appreciate. This is not the fault of the appraiser but the nature of the mandatory historical approach to home value.
Mary Cummins of Cummins Real Estate is a certified residential licensed appraiser in Los Angeles, California. Mary Cummins is licensed by the California Bureau of Real Estate appraisers and has over 35 years of experience.
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