Philly’s new task force wants to eliminate home valuation bias

The task force report also includes recommendations that aim to empower buyers and homeowners so they are able to know when a home’s valuation is low and push back the value. At the local level, the group wants the city to “proactively develop and distribute” materials detailing the assessment process and consumer rights.

The common thread running through the entire report is the need for more data that could help better define evaluation bias. The City Council, the task force said, must pass legislation that would require Philadelphia to collect appraisal information for all residential real estate transactions. This would include information about the appraiser, the appraisal itself, and the value of three comparable properties.

Additionally, the group wants the state to monitor, track, and report valuation issues. Members want the federal government to require the disclosure of appraisal information, including the race of the owner and buyer. In the same way lenders must disclose information about mortgages, the data could be used by city officials and state regulators to examine appraisal practices.

The Philadelphia Home Rating Bias Task Force began meeting last June. It consists of 22 members, including real estate agents, government officials, appraisers, and fair housing advocates – at the municipal, state, and national levels. The band was originally formed with the goal of having a “limited lifespan” of around one year.

“That said, the work is not done and there is energy around future meetings to ensure that people stay engaged with the issue and that local experience can inform state and national decision makers. Task Force members also expressed interest in using future meetings to encourage implementation of the recommendations contained in this document,” reads the first section of the report.

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