Last week, Governor Newsom signed 27 new bills to increase the supply of affordable housing and strengthen the accountability of professionals working in and around the real estate industry. Together, the series of bills aim to bring transparency and accountability, including the creation of a new executive unit within state government.
California AB 948, sponsored by Assembly Member Chris Holden, will require real estate appraisers to undergo qualifying and continuing education in cultural competency and stigma elimination.
The bill also requires sales contracts and loan documents to stress that any valuation must be impartial and not influenced by improper illegal considerations. The Appraisal Institute’s California Government Relations Subcommittee has worked collectively with the Legislature in support of this bill, and we applaud Governor Newsom’s signature.
Black and brown communities have historically been under-represented as landlords – not just in California, but throughout the United States. Unconscious biases are human and no profession is immune, including the profession of evaluation.
While many stakeholders have a responsibility to do the right thing, and it will take continuous work, AB 948 is an important step towards making change happen. Recognizing the need for greater awareness on these important topics, the Evaluation Institute is launching a 5 hour course that will cover unconscious bias.
Professional appraiser organizations like ours are also working alongside consumer groups, real estate brokers and agents, banks, government agencies, think tanks and others to better understand where current inequalities are coming from. in housing and what can be done to combat them.
We have partnered with the Evaluator Diversity Initiative with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Urban League since 2019 to attract new entrants to the evaluator field, overcome barriers to entry (such as education, training and experience) and foster diversity in the profession of appraiser.
The Appraisal Institute’s Education and Relief Foundation has committed $ 150,000 to the Initiative, which will be used to cover entry-level courses and professional resources for various aspiring assessors. There are currently eight sponsoring organizations in total, including JP Morgan Chase who recently pledged $ 3 million over three years.
Evaluators are neighbors living in the same communities in which we work, both in California and in the United States. That’s why we also work internally to lead initiatives and participate in the larger effort to create change.
This means supporting broader solutions at state and federal levels that advance fairness, reviewing our own internal processes and approaches, recruiting more reviewers of color and women, ensuring consumers know their rights. and strengthening ethics, education and training.
The Assessment Institute is made up of nearly 17,000 professionals who represent a representative cross section of America. The profession has a lot of work to do to achieve greater racial, ethnic and cultural diversity among assessors, and representation is a major force for equity and inclusion in every profession. We recognize that recruiting for greater diversity will make us stronger and more representative of the communities in which we work and contribute to greater cultural awareness.
We have all read stories where people of color felt their race played a role in the valuation of their property. It is simply unacceptable. Appraisers pride themselves on being an objective source of real estate value information, and treating anyone unfairly goes against everything we stand for as a profession.
The conversations taking place in this country are critically important and necessary to challenge and find solutions to the inequalities and discrimination faced by communities of color.
The Evaluation Institute is committed to continuing to participate in these conversations. Our designated members will continue to embody the gold standard as professionals. We are proud to have worked closely with Assembly Member Chris Holden on AB 948 to ensure that unconscious bias education is a law of the state.
This is just the start, and we will continue to lead the work that needs to be done.
Editor’s Note: Rodman Schley is the 2021 Director of the Evaluation Institute.