Responding to presidential candidate Joe Biden’s call to “establish a national standard for housing appraisals,” the Appraisal Institute said March 2 that a new standard is “unnecessary … because one already exists.”
The Appraisal Institute’s letter to Biden’s campaign agreed with his stated desire to end discriminatory and unfair practices in the housing market, and it noted that AI shares his expressed wish to tackle any racial bias that could lead to homes in communities of color potentially being appraised below their market value.
“But the reality is that national appraisal standards and ethics requirements already require appraisers to perform their work with impartiality, objectivity and independence, without bias,” said the letter from Appraisal Institute 2020 President Jefferson L. Sherman, MAI, AI-GRS. “Real estate appraisers are not the culprit.”
The Appraisal Institute’s letter noted that under the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, known as USPAP, appraisers “must not use or rely on unsupported conclusions relating to characteristics such as race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, familial status, age, receipt of public assistance income, handicap, or an unsupported conclusion that homogeneity of such characteristics is necessary to maximize value.”
AI’s letter also said: “To be quite frank, the assertion that appraisers would systematically undervalue or overvalue real estate due to these factors is absurd and shows a profound misunderstanding of the real estate valuation profession. Appraisers have nothing to gain by such behavior, and in doing so we would lose the hard-fought public trust we have achieved over many, many years.”
The letter concluded: “Since national appraisal standards and ethics requirements already are in place, and since those requirements are enforced as law, there is no need for additional standards.
We urge you to reconsider your position, and we look forward to working with you to tackle community and economic development challenges facing this country.”