New Jersey is considered a progressive state, sometimes referred to as the melting pot of America because people from so many different races and cultures are living here. Nevertheless, there is growing concern about discriminatory home appraisals.

Nichole Nelson, a policy analyst for the New Jersey Institute For Social Justice, said when a Black person and a white friend ask for separate home appraisals for the same house, and the Black individual gets a lower appraisal for the house than the white person. That is an example of illegal discrimination.

She said this is taking place in New Jersey and it’s a serious problem because “the discriminatory home appraisals rob Black and brown New Jerseyans of inter-generational wealth through home ownership.”

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Nelson pointed out “if we look at the state’s home ownership rate for Black New Jerseyans, it’s only 38.4%, compared to white New Jerseyans who have a home ownership rate of 75.9%.”

How do we know discrimination is happening?

Nelson said there have been several documented instances of this kind of discrimination where some individuals who are Black have asked white friends and associates to pretend they were the owners of their home to see if the race of people who answer the front door for the appraiser makes a difference.

She pointed out home appraisals fall into a bit of gray area because they are not only a science but an art.

“Appraisers have discretion when choosing comparable homes, or comps, to compare the particular seller or refinancer’s home to,” she said.

What’s the fix?

She said legislation dubbed the Fair Appraisals Act has been introduced, S777, to correct the problem by “fining appraisers and suspending their licenses if they discriminate based on race, it will provide additional information about appraisal discrimination to home buyers as well as homeowners.”

Nelson said outright blatant discrimination may be rare, but a lot of people do possess bias they may not even be aware of, and the legislation would also provide “fair housing training for the appraisers so they can be taught not to engage in a discriminatory home appraisal in unconscious bias.”

You can get more information on the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice website.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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