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Prince George’s Realtors Association responds to WUSA 9 investigation; declines to release results of survey into appraisal bias allegations

In a Saturday statement, the organization declined to release the results of its survey after telling WUSA 9 such results would be made available by October.

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — In November, WUSA 9 published an investigation detailing allegations of appraisal bias in Prince George’s County. Some Black homeowners claimed their homes were valued differently because they are Black homeowners and who live in a majority Black neighborhood. 

During WUSA 9’s investigation into those claims, an interview was conducted over the summer with board members of the Prince George’s County Association of Realtors (PGCAR).  It was during that interview members of the board explained that a survey had been distributed to its more than 4,000 members to both assess and identify credible claims of appraisal bias in the county.

“The more we dig into this. The more we realize we need to dig deeper and take a serious look at this,” said Kenneth Fagan, Secretary of the Board of Directors for PGCAR during an August interview with WUSA 9. “We end the conversation saying we need to look at more data.”

In a statement released Saturday, the organization declined to release the results of its survey after telling WUSA 9 such results would be made available by October.

“It [The survey] was not scientifically or formally constructed nor evaluated for the purposes of public distribution, especially given that less than 10% of our members submitted responses,” said the board in a statement. “It is inappropriate to align our reputation as the largest trade association in Prince George’s County with a questionnaire distributed via a commonly available online platform or make any conclusions based on responses that do not represent the majority of association members.”

Several members of the board and those with direct knowledge of the survey told WUSA 9 in August that the organization received less than 500 responses to its survey of which less than 50 responses were under additional review.

“Where we have had some legitimate discrepancies…it was an issue of error like the wrong square footage put in the appraisal report. Maybe it’s a five-bedroom and they listed four bedrooms,” said Fagan in August.

View the statement in full below.

 

Credit: PGCAR
Credit: PGCAR

An official analysis of appraisal bias in Maryland is expected by the summer of 2022. Senate Bill 895 requires the Maryland Department of Housing and Community development to submit a report examining how factors like race, income, location impact appraisal bias.  Maryland’s Comptroller Peter Franchot formally requested Attorney General Brian Frosh conduct an investigation in appraisal bias allegations, citing WUSA 9 reports. Franchot also requested home value reports for Prince George’s, Montgomery, Fairfax (VA), and Howard County from Maryland’s Commission of Real Estate Appraisers, Appraisal Management Companies and Home Inspectors.

Despite the allegations of appraisal bias, PGCAR said home values in Prince George’s County have increased 6% and that appreciation rates have outpaced neighboring Montgomery County and Northern Virginia. County homeowners, on the other hand, have grown increasingly alarmed by the allegations and their individual experiences. A group of homeowners, real estate agents, brokers and community members formed a group called the Fair and Unbiased Appraisal advocates.  The group’s goal is to educate other homeowners about the home appraisal process and to fight back against alleged bias.

“[We want to] bring this conversation to the forefront, [so] homeowners know to be their own advocates and to be aware of this,” said Jacqulyn Priestly, whose house appraised nearly $500,000 less than it costs to build.

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