A Black family in Cincinnati believe they were victims of what is known as “appraisal discrimination” after their home was valued lower than its actual worth because of their race. The Parker family had to remove all signs of being Black before their home appraisal went up, they said.
Erica Parker said it was tough taking down family photos, cherished artwork and her daughters’ superhero pictures from the home. She tried to hide doing so in order not to have to explain herself to her children. But her six-year-old saw her taking down the items and asked, “Mommy, what are you doing?”
“I had to just talk to her,” Parker told WCPO. “And say, you know…we’ve talked about this before. Sometimes because of the color of our skin, we get treated differently.”
Paker later spoke about the experience of “whitewashing” her Loveland, OH, home in a video she recorded. “It’s a sad, damn day in my house,” she said in her video. “But gotta do what you gotta do.”
Racial discrimination in the housing system in the United States is a systemic problem, with several reports over the years exposing the significantly huge gap between Black and White homeowners. Though the reasons for that, including redlining, challenges with securing home loans and undervaluing Black-owned homes are well known, efforts to mitigate these setbacks have moved at a snail’s pace.
“If our parents know about it, our grandparents know about it, and friends and family,” Parker’s husband, Aaron Parker, said of appraisal discrimination. “It’s systemic.”
Parker and her husband first worked with one appraiser who valued their home much lower than they expected. So they hired their own appraiser who returned with a price of $92,000 higher than the earlier appraisal. “I went from like crying to angry to crying, I went back and forth,” Parker said. “I didn’t really stay in one walk-through too long. My husband was focused because he’s like, I knew it. I know it was wrong.’”
A federal task force is looking into the problem of appraisal discrimination and is expected to make recommendations by early 2022, WCPO reported.
“We certainly are hearing stories about this nationwide, about this really acute problem being faced by homeowners of color and Black homeowners in particular,” Michael Neal, a senior research associate with the Urban Institute, testified on the topic during the federal task force’s first meeting on August 5. “The balance of the research certainly suggests that this is a challenge and that this is a real issue.”
The Parker family and their attorney are working on the next steps to take on the issue.
In California recently, a Black Bay Area couple shared their story on how their home was undervalued by a White appraiser despite making significant renovations amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. They believe race played a part.
A 2018 report by researchers at Gallup and the Brookings Institution shed some light on the devaluation of properties in Black neighborhoods compared to similar homes in White neighborhoods. According to the report: “Owner-occupied homes in black neighborhoods are undervalued by $48,000 per home on average, amounting to $156 billion in cumulative losses.”
Speaking to The New York Times, Andre Perry, one of the writers of the Brookings Institution report, said Black homeowners still continue to bear the brunt of their homes being devalued – irrespective of the neighborhood they find themselves in.
“We still see Black people as risky,” Perry said. “White appraisers carry the same attitudes and beliefs of white America — the same attitudes that compelled Derek Chauvin to kneel casually on the neck of George Floyd are shared by other professionals in other fields. How does that choking out of America look in the appraisal industry? Through very low appraisals.”