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‘Present-day redlining’: Black Bay Area homeowners say their properties are being undervalued

By Lauren Hepler, San Francisco Chronicle, July 23, 2021

“In two new discrimination complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday, [Cora Robinson of Oakland] says she was lowballed by around $400,000 on the value of her property, largely because she and some of her neighbors are Black. The claims reflect the latest in a series of cases where Black homeowners in and around the Bay Area say they’re being unfairly shut out of favorable financing and historic real estate gains as home prices hit record highs. It’s a nationwide concern that also recently pushed President Joe Biden to vow new appraisal reforms.

“ ‘This is our present-day redlining,’ said Caroline Peattie, executive director of Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California, which filed the complaints on Robinson’s behalf. ‘It just continues the cycle.’

“As it stands, Black home loan applicants in Oakland are more than twice as likely to get denied as white applicants, federal mortgage data shows. Around one-quarter of the city’s Black residents own their homes, according to a 2018 city analysis, compared to more than half of white residents.

“In Robinson’s case, a second appraisal didn’t help. She went to a different lender who hired the same appraiser. In November, he said the house was worth $825,000, according to the federal complaint …

“The next step in the case is for federal housing officials to investigate and evaluate either a settlement or a lawsuit, Peattie said. She also hopes Robinson’s story will contribute to potential reforms like shifting to more auto-generated valuations, providing a range of appraisal values or requiring multiple appraisals …”

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