'Our America: Lowballed' diving into the home appraisal process

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Friday, December 2, 2022
'Our America: Lowballed' diving into the home appraisal process
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ABC Data Analyst found, in Fresno County, about 10% of sales in mostly Latino or Hispanic neighborhoods are under-appraised.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For the last two years, ABC Owned Television Stations have been investigating discrimination in the home appraisal process.

The "Our America: Lowballed" documentary dives deep into the issue.

The ABC Owned Television Stations' data team found, in Fresno County, about 10% of sales in mostly Latino or Hispanic neighborhoods are under-appraised.

That number drops to 6% in mostly white neighborhoods.

MJ Borelli is the executive director of The Fair Housing Council of Central California.

Hearing these statistics is disappointing to her.

"Personally, it makes me sad. I would expect that we would have come further than this. But it's still happening," says MJ.

Borrelli advises buyers and sellers to be aware and ask questions during the appraisal process, utilizing tools like Zillow to find what homes similar to yours are going for is also helpful.

"Really, what you want to do is make sure you are able to look at the report, and if you are finding anomalies in the report, then you need to speak up," suggests MJ.

The data team also found a lack of diversity in appraisers.

In Fresno County, 70% of appraisers are white and 14% are Hispanic or Latino.

Meanwhile, 37% of the population is White and 39% is Latino.

Otoniel Gutierrez is a Tulare, Kings and Fresno County appraiser.

In his 17 years of work, he has only known of one other Latino appraiser in the Tulare County area.

"I think it is one of those careers that takes a lot of time and at firs3t, you don't make much because it will take you like four years to become an appraiser," says Otoniel.

Otoniel came to the United States when he was 17 years old.

He worked in the fields, learned English and received a GED.

At 28 years old, he started his appraiser career education at the University of Oregon.

The sacrifice has paid off as he is bridging a gap in language barriers in the appraisal industry.

"I am blessed and honored to serve those people because you can see when I go see a house, sometimes people are kind of shy and don't talk much. Once they realize I speak Spanish, they are a totally different person," describes Otoniel.

The Fair Housing Council of Central California says if you have any questions, you can reach out to them.

For more information on under-appraisals, watch "Our America: Lowballed." It premieres this Friday on the ABC30 Central California App.