The dream of homeownership should be available to everyone in New Jersey, regardless of race, color or national origin. But the reality for many people of color is that they often face discrimination when trying to buy or sell a home.
One version of this frequently happens at the appraisal stage. Getting a property’s fair market value from an expert is a necessary step in the home sale process. But it requires the appraiser to judge the property on its merits, not on the race, color, or birthplace of the buyers, sellers or real estate agents involved. Unfortunately, some New Jersey appraisers seem to discriminate in this way. Many would-be homebuyers find themselves shut out by an appraisal that puts their target home out of their price range. Meanwhile, sellers can find themselves with a home appraisal so low that it makes upgrading to a new property impossible.
Steep differences in homeownership
These practices likely contribute to the fact that White people in New Jersey are about twice as likely to own their home as their neighbors of color. A recent report found that 75.9 percent of White residents are homeowners, compared to just 38.4 percent of Black residents. Lack of access to homeownership is one of the main drivers of intergenerational poverty.
Proposed change to the law
A bill to end discriminatory appraisal practices is currently making its way through the State Legislature. The bill, S777, would direct the state Real Estate Appraiser Board to investigate claims of discrimination and punish the appraiser if it finds they did discriminate illegally. The bill is still alive in the state Senate as of November.
Working with a real estate attorney can make the process easier and less stressful. Your lawyer can also help protect you from illegal discrimination so that you get fair treatment.