Reps. Cleaver, Torres Introduce Legislation to Combat Disparities in Real Estate Appraisal Industry

Apr 16, 2021
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, United States Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) and Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus policy group on Child Poverty, Housing, and Community Reinvestment, introduced the Real Estate Valuation Fairness and Improvement Act to combat disparities in America’s residential and commercial real estate appraisal industry. Specifically, the Real Estate Valuation Fairness and Improvement Act would establish an interagency task force to review and remove barriers to equitable real estate valuation standards and provide federal grant funding to facilitate greater diversity and inclusion in the profession.

“Homeownership has traditionally been the primary way that Americans accumulate wealth. High-profile cases of homes owned by people of color being devalued in comparison to homes owned by their white neighbors have renewed calls for federal action,” said Congressman Cleaver. “As our nation seeks to Build Back Better from the coronavirus pandemic, we have to do it with the intentionality of supporting communities of color that face disparities in the valuation of their most valuable assets, including those who were unable to attain historically low interest rates during the pandemic due to appraisal inequalities. With the Real Estate Valuation Fairness and Improvement Act, we have an opportunity to ensure people of color are receiving fair real estate valuations that are so critical to climbing the economic ladder and building intergenerational wealth in the 21st century. I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Representative Torres, and I look forward to working alongside him until this common sense proposal is signed into law.”

“Homeownership has long been considered a cornerstone of the American Dream, symbolizing success and opportunity. However, lack of strong federal enforcement has kept communities of color from accumulating wealth through homeownership,” said Rep. Torres. “Passing the Real Estate Valuation Fairness and Improvement Act will directly combat disparities in America’s residential and commercial real estate appraisal industry. This type of systemic discrimination must be addressed through legislation in order to ensure a path for Black and Brown Americans to build intergenerational wealth. I am proud to work with Representative Cleaver on this important issue.”

The Real Estate Valuation Fairness and Improvement Act would:

  1. Establish and convene an interagency Task Force on Real Estate Valuation, consisting of agencies and other relevant entities, to evaluate and respond to racial disparities in real estate valuations;
  2. Direct the Task Force to submit, within two years and periodically afterward, reports to Congress detailing findings and actions taken by the Task Force to improve real estate property valuations;
  3. Require the Task Force to establish an advisory committee, consisting of civil rights advocates, consumer advocates, industry representatives, and other stakeholders, to provide advice to the Task Force; and
  4. Authorize a federal grant program to promote diversity and inclusion in the appraisal profession through scholarships, training and education, implicit bias training, and other activities as deemed appropriate.

Recent reports have shown significant disparities in the assessments of home valuations for white families and families of color. In fact, a 2018 report from the Brookings Institute found that homes in majority-black neighborhoods are valued at roughly half the price as homes in neighborhoods with no Black residents. Furthermore, the Appraisal Institute recently acknowledged the need to address unconscious racial bias in home valuations.

Last month, Congressman Cleaver joined U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in leading over 35 congressional lawmakers calling on the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council to take action to address disparities in home valuations for communities of color.

The Real Estate Valuation Fairness and Improvement Act is endorsed by Appraisal Institute, Appraisal Foundation, the National Fair Housing Alliance, the Real Estate Valuation Advocacy Association, the National Consumer Law Center, on behalf of its low-income clients, Americans for Financial Reform, the California Reinvestment Coalition, the Center for Community Progress, the Center for Responsible Lending, the Color of Change, Consumer Action, the Consumer Federation of America, the Empire Justice Center (New York), Faith in Action, Legal Action Chicago, the Massachusetts Communities Action Network (MCAN), MICAH- Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), the National Community Stabilization Trust, the National Disability Rights Network, the National Housing Resource Center, Prosperity Now, Public Citizen, and the Woodstock Institute.

You can find official text of the Real Estate Valuation Fairness and Improvement Act here.

 

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Matt Helfant at 202-590-0175 or matthew.helfant@mail.house.gov A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.