Is there home appraisal bias in Central California? Professionals weigh in

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- According to The Appraisal Institute, racial bias can potentially play a part in the professional valuations of homes.

Sellers in some U.S. cities have reported getting lower appraisals based on the color of their skin.

"We all have bias, all of us, to some extent and about different things," says Guarantee Real Estate President Desrie Van Putten.

As a real estate professional in the Fresno area, Van Putten says she has never encountered bias. However, she does believe it exists.

Van Putten shared a time she was consulting with an African American seller.

"As we walk through her home, she did ask me if I thought she should put away the little African-American dolls in her daughter's room before the property was appraised or even while it was being shown," she said. "I don't think it will be a problem but it could be, and because I want you to have the best possible experience and I want you to sell your home for the most you possibly can, let's just remove any doubt and put your dolls away."

We looked at survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which estimates only about 15% of appraisers in the Fresno metro area are people of color, compared to almost three-quarters of the population.

However, zero percent are Black.

Van Putten also says she's never met a Black appraiser in Fresno.

Bryan Greene, Vice President of Policy Advocacy at the National Association of REALTORS, told Action News in a statement that every profession, including real estate, benefits from diversity.

"Diversity not only widens perspectives, but also helps guard against groupthink and other cultural bias that may cloud our assessment. In addition to expanding diversity, we know that many in the appraisal industry are promoting implicit bias training, as well, to further ensure non-discrimination in appraisals," he said.

But Van Putten says she can't imagine any of the appraisers she knows being biased when it comes to their clients.

"Honestly, the people that I talk to, the professionals in this industry are so professional, so open and their priorities are so much about doing what's best for their client that I rarely come across over bias," she said.

Another Valley real estate professional agrees the Fresno market is different.

Still, Don Scordino says it's important to hold one another accountable.

"I see fairness predominantly here in the Central Valley and I've done this for 45 years here," he said. "Locally, if I ever encounter anything like that, it's easy to nip that in the bud."

Van Putten says property ownership is one of the most basic building blocks for families to create wealth.

Just last year, the Biden Administration announced new efforts to narrow the racial wealth gap.

For more information on the report, click here.
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.