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A toxic mix of redlining and discrimination means homes in Black neighborhoods are chronically undervalued to the tune of $156 billion


tiffany aliche house

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Tiffany Aliche already knew the deal. She’d heard stories about how homes owned by Black people are often undervalued in the marketplace. However, she didn’t expect to have her own tale to tell. 

Earlier this year, she was planning to do a cash-out refinance on her home; the process requires an appraisal. Aliche, founder of The Budgetnista, a financial education company, went in with eyes wide open — if the country hadn’t been under quarantine, she says, she would have had a white friend pretend to be her when the appraisers came, and put away her family photos. 

Still, she hid personal photos for the appraiser’s visit, but there was no getting around the fact that her home was in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey. The appraiser valued the five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home with a finished basement, two laundry rooms, all new plumbing and electric, and other bells and whistles at $390,000. 

“I was disheartened, disappointed, but sadly, not surprised,” says Aliche, who paid $800 for the appraisal.

She knew it was low. Aliche asked a realtor to check comparable sales of homes nearby; they determined the appraisal was at least $30,000 too low, especially given the fact that the home is in a historic district and at the time homes were selling at new highs. 

Aliche decided not to go forward with the cash-out refinance, so she didn’t challenge the appraisal. But the experience still stings. “When so much of your wealth is tied to home ownership, how do you make up for the gap when your home is undervalued? You can’t outwork racism,” she says.

Homes in Black neighborhoods are regularly undervalued in the US

Her experience is not unique. 

According to a 2018 report from the Brookings Institution, owner-occupied homes in majority-Black neighborhoods are undervalued by $48,000 per home on average, amounting to a cumulative loss of $156 billion nationwide. That deficit is a big reason Black wealth could drop to zero by 2053, according to the nonprofit Prosperity Now. 

Things are not moving in the right direction. According to the Urban Institute, since the Great Recession, the gap between Black and white homeownership rates in America has increased to its highest level in 50 years, from 28.1 percentage points in 2010 to 30.1 percentage points in 2017. White homeownership is 71.9% compared to 41.8% for Black Americans. This gap is wider than when race-based discrimination against homebuyers was legal. 

The Brookings Institution uses median neighborhood home price data from Zillow to calculate how much homes in majority-Black neighborhoods are undervalued compared to neighborhoods with no Black residents. “Structural characteristics of homes and neighborhood amenities do not fully explain the absolute difference in home value,” Brookings notes.

The high cost of devaluation

The impact of this widespread devaluation is huge. “Home equity can be used for college funding for your children, to start a business, or a refinance can help you weather a finance crisis,” says Michael Neal, a senior research associate with the Urban Institute. “Less equity curtails …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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