Home appraisal’s ugly history and uncertain future

HW+ home appraisal

This is Part I of a deep dive into the home appraisal industry, which has faced a growing number of claims of racial bias. Today we explore the origins of the appraisal industry and its current lack of diversity. In Part II, we will examine what hard evidence of bias exists, and the assumptions behind home appraising. 

Pat Turner’s mother was a child welfare worker in Suffolk, Virginia, during the Jim Crow era, who helped children of all races. 

“My mother would come home about every month with a new child. And she would run that child a bath, and throw away their clothes, and give them clothes of mine to wear,” he said.

Turner said his mother was “well ahead of her time,” a white person in southern Virginia who supported the civil rights movement during the 1950s.

Turner attended the University of Richmond, graduated in 1972 and stayed in the Virginia capital to work as a real estate appraiser. Now in his 49th year on the job, Turner bristles at accusations that home appraisers discriminate against racial minorities. But he acknowledges that social observations enter into his calculations.

“Where the lines are drawn are where the employment rates are out of balance. When you ride through a neighborhood, and there are guys smoking something midday that are definitely of employment age. The Black neighborhoods get hit harder by unemployment,” said Turner, who has run P.E. Turner & Co since 1990. 

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