Biden admin to release plan to stop bias in home appraisals

Vice President Kamala Harris will announce an action plan to stop racial discrimination in the appraisal of home values, according to senior Biden administration officials.

The plan contains 21 steps to improve oversight and accountability, including a legislative proposal to modernize the governance structure of the appraisal industry. Appraisers help to determine the value of a home so that buyers can receive a mortgage.

The Biden administration officials insisted on anonymity to discuss the administration’s action plan ahead of Wednesday’s announcement.

Multiple reports, including a September analysis by mortgage buyer Freddie Mac, show that appraisers are more likely to undervalue homes in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. This form of discrimination widens the racial wealth gap and makes it harder for many Americans from disadvantaged backgrounds to move up the economic ladder.

One Black homeowner in Indianapolis found the appraised value of her home went from $125,000 to $259,000 after she declined to state her race in her application and removed all family photos and African American art in the home.

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As part of the action plan, the government will expand the complaint hotline for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There also will be appraisal bias training in homebuyer education classes and efforts to ensure that the computer systems used to value homes do not perpetuate racial biases.

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