AG Platkin Announces Initiative to Address Discrimination in Home Appraisals

Department to Take Key Steps to Eradicate Persistent Inequities in Home Appraisals

For Immediate Release: January 12, 2024

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division on Civil Rights
– Sundeep Iyer, Director
Division of Consumer Affairs
– Cari Fais, Acting Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Tara Oliver
OAGpress@njoag.gov

TRENTON — Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced today the launch of the Home Appraisal Discrimination Initiative to address persistent systemic inequities in real estate appraisals, which play a critical role in the homebuying and home refinancing process. The Initiative, which was developed by the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) in partnership with the Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA), encompasses a number of key actions the Department of Law and Public Safety is taking to address bias and discrimination in home appraisals.

As part of the Home Appraisal Discrimination Initiative, the Department has, among other things, issued DCR enforcement guidance on how the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) applies to discrimination in home appraisals; created a new Appraisal Equity Subcommittee within DCA’s New Jersey State Real Estate Appraiser Board to reduce barriers to entering the appraisal profession and to diversify the profession; launched an internal DCR Appraisal Discrimination Enforcement Task Force to enforce the LAD’s prohibition on discrimination in home appraisals; and announced that DCR and the State Real Estate Appraiser Board will share complaints regarding appraisals.

The Home Appraisal Discrimination Initiative – informed by Governor Phil Murphy’s Wealth Disparity Task Force, which was established by Executive Order in 2021 – is designed to address well-documented inequities in home appraisals in New Jersey and nationally.  As the Biden Administration’s Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity has recognized, racial and ethnic bias in appraisals contributes to the undervaluation of homes in neighborhoods of color, including in majority Black and Latinx/e neighborhoods. These disparities are an important factor driving racial disparities in homeownership and wealth across New Jersey.  The Initiative announced today takes several key steps to address the role home appraisals play in contributing to these disparities.

“Discrimination in any form has no room in our state. The unethical practice of home appraisal discrimination has the potential to cost home buyers and owners tens of thousands of dollars in the home purchasing or refinancing stage, especially for communities of color,” said Governor Murphy. “As we seek to improve access to affordable housing in our state, it’s also important that we address discriminatory practices that prevent access to the benefits of homeownership.”

“Although we have some of the strongest anti-discrimination protections in the nation, bias continues to affect the real estate industry. That is unacceptable, and in New Jersey it is unlawful,” said New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “We are committed to putting an end to discriminatory practices that create barriers to homeownership, building generational wealth, and maintaining stable communities.”

“Discriminatory practices in home appraisals violate our civil rights laws, and we are committed to ensuring that all entities involved in the home appraisal process, including appraisers, lenders, and appraisal management companies, comply with their legal obligations,” said Sundeep Iyer, Director of the Division on Civil Rights. “The initiative announced today marks an important first step towards eradicating discrimination in home appraisals and opening new doors to homeownership and wealth-building for communities of color in our state.”

“Home appraisals must be fair, objective, and unbiased,” said Cari Fais, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “This initiative will provide the Real Estate Appraiser Board with additional resources to promote equity and accountability in the real estate appraisal industry, and ensure that the wealth-building benefits of homeownership are equally available to all.”

The LAD prohibits discrimination in home appraisals.  It bars discrimination “in the terms, conditions or privileges of the sale, rental, lease, assignment or sublease of any real property” on the basis of any protected characteristic, including but not limited to, race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression. The LAD’s prohibition against discrimination applies to appraisers; to lenders, such as banks and non-bank mortgage lenders; and to appraisal management companies, which connect lenders with appraisers and may manage the appraisal process during a real estate transaction. In addition, a commercial practice that violates a state or federal law – including the LAD – is a violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act in actions brought by the Attorney General. Appraisers who violate the LAD may be subject to disciplinary action by the Real Estate Appraiser Board.

The Home Appraisal Discrimination Initiative announced today consists of the following key components:

  • DCR Enforcement Guidance on Discrimination in Home Appraisals:  The Department and DCR have issued guidance on how the LAD applies to discrimination in home appraisals. The guidance explains that appraisers, appraisal management companies, and lenders all may bear liability in connection with discriminatory home appraisals.  The guidance document also explains that an appraisal industry professional who violates the LAD or any other state or federal civil rights law commits professional misconduct and may be subject to discipline by the State Real Estate Appraiser Board.
  • State Real Estate Appraiser Board Appraisal Equity Subcommittee:  The Appraiser Board has launched a new Appraisal Equity Subcommittee to consider, among other things, the feasibility of offering a pilot practicum course to aspiring appraisers that can reduce barriers to entering the appraisal profession and diversify the profession.
  • DCR Appraisal Discrimination Enforcement Task Force:  DCR has created an internal task force focused on enforcing the LAD’s prohibition against discrimination in home appraisals. The task force will launch investigations of discrimination in connection with home appraisals and address complaints regarding home appraisal discrimination raised by members of the public.
  • Complaint Sharing Between DCR and State Real Estate Appraiser Board:  DCR and the Appraiser Board will share complaints regarding home appraisal discrimination so as to ensure that all reports of bias and discrimination in home appraisals will be reviewed by both agencies. 
  • Anti-Bias Trainings for State Real Estate Appraiser Board Members:  DCR will provide anti-bias trainings to members of the Appraiser Board so that Board members are trained on the requirements of the LAD and on implicit bias. 
  • Anti-Bias Trainings for Appraisers:  The Appraiser Board has approved several of DCR’s free trainings – DCR’s trainings on Implicit Bias and on the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination in Housing – for continuing education credit for appraisers.  In addition, beginning in January 2026, all appraisers licensed in New Jersey will be required to complete continuing education on Valuation Bias and Fair Housing Laws and Regulations.  That is the result of a revision to the Appraiser Qualification Board’s criteria, which are incorporated into the Board’s regulations. 
  • Public Education and Outreach: DCR and DCA, in collaboration with Latino Action Network Foundation and Fair Share Housing Center – hosted the initiative’s first public outreach event on home appraisal discrimination on October 26.  In the coming months, DCR and DCA will launch additional public outreach events to educate New Jerseyans about discriminatory appraisals.  Later this year, DCR will also release a one-hour virtual training on Home Appraisal Discrimination to educate members of the public. 

Anyone who believes they have or someone they know has experienced discrimination in connection with a home appraisal in New Jersey, you may contact DCR by email at appraisals@njcivilrights.gov.  Anyone who believes that an appraiser has committed professional misconduct can file an online complaint with DCA by visiting its website at https://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/Pages/Consumer-Complaints.aspx or by calling DCA at 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.

***

The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights enforces the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the New Jersey Family Leave Act, and the Fair Chance in Housing Act, and works to prevent, eliminate, and remedy discrimination and bias-based harassment in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation throughout New Jersey.

To find out more information, go to www.njcivilrights.gov.

***

The mission of the Division of Consumer Affairs is to protect the public from fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and professional misconduct in the sale of goods and services in New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 professional and occupational boards that oversee 720,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business section that oversees 60,000 NJ registered businesses, as well as through its Office of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Securities, Charities Registration section, Office of Weights and Measures, and Legalized Games of Chance section.

To find out more information, go to www.njconsumeraffairs.gov.

###