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Freddie Mac Examines Minority ‘Appraisal Gap’

Following-up on anecdotes and stories on racial bias submitted to Freddie Mac, the government sponsored enterprise (GSE) conducted research on whether minorities are more likely to receive an appraisal value on a single-family home that is lower than the contract price, resulting in an appraisal gap which may exclude them from certain wealth-building benefits. This appraisal gap may also impact the potential buyer’s ability to obtain financing on their home.

This study, “Racial and Ethnic Valuation Gaps In Home Purchase Appraisals,” focuses on two minority groups, Black and Latino, with the White non-Latino group as the reference in the top-30 housing markets in the country.

First, Freddie Mac asked the question, “Is there an appraisal gap for minority applicants?” to which the answer is “yes” based on the available data they collected from 2016-2020. The data found that 9.5% of Latino applicants received an “appraisal value lower than the contract price” when compared to whites resulting in an appraisal gap of 2.9%. The data for Black applicants followed a similar trend with 8.6% receiving a lower appraisal value resulting in a 2.1% gap.

For the dataset, 21,095 appraisers submitted reports for Black and White buyers—of them 934 appraisers submitted enough appraisals for each group to be deemed statistically significant. Of the 934 appraisers, about 6% had appraisal reports that showed a Black versus White gap of 10%. This differs in the case of unbiased appraisals, where about half of the appraisers would show negative estimated gaps. The data is similar for the Latino versus White demographic with 18,905 appraisers submitting reports for both groups and 1,560 submitted enough data to be deemed significant.

“An appraisal falling below the contracted sale price may allow a buyer to renegotiate with a seller, but it could also mean families might miss out on the full wealth-building benefits of homeownership or may be unable to get the financing needed to achieve the American Dream in the first place,” said Michael Bradley, SVP of Modeling, Econometrics, Data Science and Analytics in Freddie Mac's Single-Family Division. “This is a persistent problem that disproportionately impacts hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino applicants. Our research marks the beginning of a comprehensive effort to better understand the key drivers contributing to the appraisal gap. Our goal is to develop solutions to this persistent problem, including appraisal best practices, uniform standards for automated valuation models, enhanced consumer disclosures, improved value processes, and revised fair lending exam procedures and risk assessments.”

While the GSE’s findings are preliminary, and only focus on a few datasets, it also found that buyers in minority neighborhoods were just as likely to receive a lower appraisal.

The report stated that in order to remedy this, it is committed to devoting further research on the topic and is a part of the Appraisal Institute’s Appraiser Diversity Initiative and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Project REACh initiative which is dedicated to financial inclusion through enhanced access to capital.

The data for this report focused on 12 million appraisals submitted to Freddie Mac from January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2020 through the Uniform Collateral Data Portal (UCDP).

A full copy of Freddie Mac’s report can be found here.

About Author: Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at [email protected].

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