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Community and Urban Affairs Committee Clears Bill to Prevent Discrimination in Property Appraisals

TRENTON – In an effort to offer greater protections against discrimination in property appraisals as well as reaffirm the State’s commitment to residents who are subjected to unequal treatment, the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee advanced legislation that would prohibit discriminatory practices in the appraisal industry and require real estate appraisers to undergo anti-bias training.

Under the bill, sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou and Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz, a real estate appraiser would be prohibited from considering race, creed, sexual orientation, and/or other personal characteristics as part of the appraisal process. It would also require appraisers to complete a fair housing and appraisal bias education course.

“Though strides have been made and reforms achieved in stopping discrimination in residential property appraisals, bias remains a bitter reality and an impediment experienced by too many residents who wish only to fulfill their dream of owning a home,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Research shows that appraisals remain lower for Black and Latino families than for white families across the country. This law will help further protect families from discrimination and help to lower the racial wealth gap.”

In regard to anti-bias training, the bill would require a real estate appraiser to complete a fair housing and appraisal bias education course offered by the Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB) of the Appraisal Foundation in order to satisfy the appraiser’s continuing education requirements.

“Roadblocks within the housing industry are extremely detrimental to low-income communities and disproportionately affect people of color. These discriminatory practices in real-estate appraisals produce damaging long-term effects, including limiting the building of equity and generational wealth,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex).

The bill, S-1311, was released from committee on a vote of 5-0.