Wells Fargo picks Houston for appraisal diversity grant

Program to train home appraisers will grant $5M over five years beginning in 2023

National Urban League's Marc Morial (National Urban League, Getty)
National Urban League's Marc Morial (National Urban League, Getty)

Wells Fargo is investing in diverse home appraisers and small businesses in Texas.

A $5 million grant from the San Francisco-based bank will train and support appraisers in Houston.

Wells Fargo is teaming up with the National Urban League, a civil rights organization that has a chapter in Houston, to make it easier for minorities to enter the field, the Houston Business Journal reported. The $5 million will be granted over the course of five years, starting in 2023.

Up to 260 home appraisers and 130 small businesses could be added to the market under the grant, with the goal of more equitable and affordable home appraisals across backgrounds.
Houston is one of three U.S. cities to receive the grant.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that more than 96 percent of the almost 86,000 property appraisers and assessors in the country are white.

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A lack of diversity in the appraisal industry can lead to undervaluation and biases in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods that limits minority people’s ability to profit in the same way white households can.

Last year, Black homeowners in the San Francisco area received what they believed to be an “unreasonably low” home appraisal. In response, the couple “white-washed” their home by removing family photos and putting away any African or African-American themed items and having a white friend greet a second appraiser. The home, which had initially been appraised at $1 million, picked up another half million with a final appraisal of $1.5 million, illustrating the biases that come into play in the appraisal process.

While Houston is the most diverse city in the country with more than three-quarters of its residents being from a “diverse background,” minority homeownership is merely 36 percent.

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— Victoria Pruitt