What’s happening?

A Baltimore couple is suing a home appraisal company, its owner, and a mortgage lending company for housing discrimination, Megan Sayles and Kara Thompson report for AFRO News. Last year, loanDepot denied Nathan Conolly’s and Shani Mott’s application for a loan to refinance the mortgage on their Homeland house, following a low appraisal by 20/20 Valuations.

The couple had their home appraised again in 2022, and—after replacing all of the images in their home to that of a white family and having a white friend stand in for the appraisal—they received a valuation $278,000 higher than the previous and were approved for the refinancing loan.

How does this lawsuit fit into the larger issue of appraisal discrimination? 

Conolly and Mott aren’t alone in their experience. Racial and ethnic bias in home valuations is an ongoing challenge for Black property owners. In the last year, the Maryland Real Estate Appraiser Commission has received four complaints from property owners claiming their homes were not valued properly, including three from Prince George’s County and one from Calvert County, according to Joseph Farren, chief strategy officer of the Maryland Department of Labor.

But lawmakers have started to pay more attention to the issue. The state appraiser commission proposed a regulation that would require every appraiser to receive bias and discrimination training specifically catered toward this field. And the Biden-Harris Administration created the Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity in 2021 and released an action plan to address the issue earlier this year.

Anything else I should know? 

Though the state commission will respond to complaints, Farren recommends residents also file with the national Appraisal Foundation, which sets regulations for the entire industry.

You can read more here.