Fair Appraisals Matter—To the White House, and to Us

Have you heard about PAVE? Most people haven’t. It stands for Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity.

When it comes to homeownership, fair appraisals are not just a matter of numbers—they’re a cornerstone of equity and financial prosperity. Enter PAVE. This initiative, championed by the White House, is more than just an acronym; it’s a pivotal step towards addressing long-standing biases in home valuations that disproportionately affect Black and Brown communities. While many are still unaware of PAVE, its impact could reshape the landscape of real estate fairness. Two years since its introduction by the Interagency Task Force, it’s crucial to examine the progress and understand why fair home appraisals are not just beneficial but essential for a more equitable society.

Why? We believe fair home appraisals can help promote good selling and buying experiences for more people. In short, PAVE is good for deed holders, good for title transactions, and helpful for ensuring fairness when deeds change hands.

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“Unlicensed Appraisal” and Other Stories: How Scam Artists Chase Disaster Victims

After Tropical Storm Hilary blasted the Baja and San Diego regions in mid-August, the Federal Trade Commission urged people to watch for a surge in rip-offs.

Opportunists may say they’re performing appraisals, but unless they are licensed appraisers, they lack professional accountability. If they’re improperly doing the work of adjusters, they might be violating state insurance law, too.

Their goal? To fleece people and then walk away from them in their time of need. Today’s climate realities offer schemers plenty of chances to rip people off.

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Hybrid Appraisals Are New to Real Estate. Are They Good or Bad?

The hybrid appraisal is now allowed for real estate transactions and financing. It’s a form of real estate appraisal that’s completed from the appraiser’s desk, using information from the home that came remotely, from a data collector. This is also known as the “bifurcation” of the appraisal work.

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac consider these bifurcated appraisals legit. Maybe that’s a good thing. Hybrid appraisals relieve appraisers from data collection tasks. Their acceptance can mean new opportunities for real estate professionals to earn money in data collection.

On second thought, maybe it’s not so great to outsource the appraiser’s traditional in-person property visit. Stories are already emerging about data collectors who are vetted just once, and have exploited their temporary access to homes.  

So, should hybrid appraisals be welcomed, watched, or challenged? Let’s take a look.

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How to Get a Fair Home Appraisal

Valuing Your Home

Your financial leverage hinges on your home’s appraised value. Whether you’re buying, selling, borrowing against your home equity, or refinancing, the lender may call on a licensed appraiser to determine how much credit to extend to you.

When you’re counting on a good appraisal, is there anything you can do to make sure your home gets the valuation it deserves? This Q&A will shed light on the process — and your influence.

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California Targets Unfair Appraisals

California residential housing with a cityscape in the background

2021 Fair Housing Law Roundup

Diversity, inclusion and fairness are key goals for today’s real estate industry. Biased appraisals thwart these goals. To help remediate the problem, California enacted Assembly Bill 948 on Sep. 28, 2021. Under the new law, bias in appraisals is against the appraisers’ licensing law as well as state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. This is big news for home appraisal professionals.

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The Biden Administration Confronts Racial Bias in Appraisals

Happy family gathered in a kitchen preparing food. Captioned: Administration Confronts Racial Bias in Appraisals

Black-owned homes are regularly low-balled in appraisals. It’s been happening for generations. Now, the Biden administration is confronting the issue.

On June 1, 2021, the president said a new task force will deal with race-associated disparities in home appraisals. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge will lead the team as it embarks on a thorough review of current appraisal methods and outcomes, and as potential remedies are considered.

The task force will consist of a large group of agencies and financial groups, encompassing the Federal Reserve, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and a host of financial groups. It will seek information and guidance, too, from civil rights nonprofits as well as the appraisal industry and its state-based regulators.

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Navigating the Home Appraisal: A Buyer’s Guide

You’ve put in your bid for the home you want. Now you await the appraiser’s report. What’s going on behind the scenes?

How the Appraisal Works in Most Cases

Image of reading glasses and cash sitting on top of a clipboard holding appraisal paperwork. Captioned: How the appraisal works in most cases

The typical home appraisal relies mainly on local sales comparisons, or comps. What will other buyers pay now for a house like the one you’re buying? Whatever price others will pay for similar homes is roughly the value of your new home.

What’s a similar home? The appraiser considers homes within a certain radius of the one you’re buying, with comparable bedroom and bathroom counts, the same or similar size and construction type. Comparable homes have the same school district or a similarly ranked school district, and similar amenities nearby. The appraiser studies and compares sales information and recorded documents for the homes. Homes sold in the last three months are considered the most relevant comparisons.

Even similar properties are unique homes, of course. Therefore, the appraiser will find enough variety in the data to come up with a range of reasonable valuations. Some comparable properties might have been sold for more than the market value, others at below-normal prices, and so forth. Once the outliers are understood for what they are, an appraiser needs to figure out where your desired house fits among slightly more and slightly less costly properties.

The expert’s professional discretion explains why, many times, the appraisal will come back with a valuation very close to the price you offered and the seller has accepted. As long as your agreed-upon purchase price falls within the data-supported range of value calculated by the appraiser, a buyer usually gets an appraisal that matches what the buyer and seller think the home is worth.

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