1/17/2024 in NFHA News, Press Releases

The National Fair Housing Alliance Applauds FHFA’s Continued Leadership in Combating Appraisal Bias

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2024
Contact: Janelle Brevard | jbrevard@nationalfairhousing.org

Washington, D.C. — The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA™) applauds the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) under the leadership of Director Sandra L. Thompson for releasing a groundbreaking analysis of an important factor driving racial disparities in appraisals. Specifically, FHFA’s analysis found that appraisers are more likely to make adjustments for rising market conditions or “time adjustments” for homes in majority-White census tracts that would otherwise fall below the contract price than for homes in majority-Black or majority-Latino tracts. FHFA noted that these time adjustments can be decisive in determining whether a home appraises at the contract price and the home purchase transaction can go forward.

Nikitra Bailey, NFHA’s Executive Vice President, issued the following statement:

“An appraisal has the power to determine the value of a consumer’s most important financial asset, which can hold the key to determining whether the consumer can purchase a permanent home rather than rent, access credit on reasonable terms, and build wealth for generations to come. FHFA’s most recent analysis is consistent with numerous news stories as well as research by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Drs. Junia Howell and Elizabeth Korver-Glenn, Dr. Andre Perry and the Brookings Institution, and NFHA that document the serious and systemic problem of appraisal bias for consumers and communities of color. Appraisal bias exacerbates the large and growing Black-White and Latino-White wealth gaps by causing families of color to lose out on homeownership opportunities or get lower valuations. We applaud FHFA for taking another critical step in identifying and combating appraisal bias, especially at a time when many consumers are deterred from homeownership by higher interest rates that have driven up the cost of affording a mortgage.”

FHFA led the way in analyzing the root causes of appraisal bias by conducting a comprehensive study of the use of overt statements on the basis of race, ethnicity, and religion in appraisal reports; and releasing to the public aggregate statistics from the Uniform Appraisal Dataset (UAD) along with user-friendly analytical tools.

“We commend Director Thompson for the momentous decision to conduct seminal research and share appraisal data with the public,” said Ms. Bailey. “This was one of the key recommendations from the NFHA Consortium report on appraisal bias. Like Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data, this appraisal data can revolutionize our understanding of the appraisal process and help develop better compliance systems to prevent harm to consumers and communities of color. Additionally, we look forward to working with FHFA to explore additional data releases at the loan level to help us fully understand appraisal bias.”

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The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) is the country’s only national civil rights organization dedicated solely to eliminating all forms of housing and lending discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities for all people. As the trade association for over 170 fair housing and justice-centered organizations and individuals throughout the U.S. and its territories, NFHA works to dismantle longstanding barriers to equity and build diverse, inclusive, well-resourced communities.