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  • Writer's pictureCenter for Local Policy Analysis (CLPA)

Proposed Legislation in Prince George's County to Promote Fairness in Real Estate Appraisals

CB-075-2023, the Real Estate Appraisal Bias Ban of 2023, was recently introduced in the Prince George's County Council which aims to establish a ban on real estate appraisal bias in Prince George's County by adding new sections and amending the Prince George's County Code. Appraisal bias refers to discrimination or unfair treatment within the real estate appraisal process. It involves assigning a lower value to a property based on factors such as the race, ethnicity, or other protected characteristics of the person who resides there.

A recent study conducted by the Brookings Institute revealed concerning findings about appraisal bias. According to the study, homes in predominantly Black neighborhoods are appraised roughly 21% to 23% less than similar homes in non-Black neighborhoods. These appraisal transactions in majority-Black neighborhoods are almost twice as likely to result in appraisals that fall below the contract price compared to homes in predominantly white neighborhoods. The study found that the median appraisal value in majority-Black neighborhoods is 15% lower than in neighborhoods where less than 1% of the population is Black. These disparities highlight the pressing need to address and rectify appraisal bias to promote fairness and equality in the real estate market.

In an attempt to combat appraisal bias in Prince George's County, CB-075-2023 adds new text to the County Code prohibiting real estate appraisers from considering factors like race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, familial status, or national origin when appraising real property in Prince George's County. Currently, there are no explicit prohibitions in the County Code regarding these groups. It also explicitly states how "real estate appraisal "and "real estate appraiser" are defined in the County Code, something that has not been done in previous regulations. CB-075-2023 now defines a "real estate appraisal" as any process used to determine, analyze, or assess the value of real property. A "real estate appraiser" is now defined as a person or entity licensed by the Maryland Commission of Real Estate Appraisers, Appraisal Management Companies, and Home Inspectors to conduct real property appraisals.

This bill would amend a section of the County Code related to civil monetary fines or penalties, stating that violations of the ban on real estate bias will result in a $1000 civil fine per violation. The amended section specifies that civil violations related to the ban on bias will result in a civil fine imposed by the District Court. The fine amount is left to the court's discretion but cannot be less than the specified amount.

However, the bill also introduces exceptions for certain violations. Violations related to the Code and violations related to tax liens placed on the property must be paid in full to Prince George's County through the Office of Finance before the transfer or sale of the property. In other words, these specific violations cannot be subject to a suspension or deferral of the payment of the civil fine. The new additions to this bill give the court power to delay or reduce the payment of the fine for certain violations if there are valid reasons. However, receiving a fine doesn't stop someone from taking other legal actions or seeking help in different ways if they choose. So, they can still try other things to solve the problem even if they have to pay the fine.

The Prince George's County Office of Human Rights will be responsible for administering and enforcing the ban, and individuals can file claims of violation with them. The violating appraiser will be fined if a violation is confirmed, and the County Attorney will enforce the penalty. Violations of the ban on real estate bias render the associated appraisal legally void and cannot be used for real estate appraisal purposes in Prince George's County. The County Office of Human Rights will also report violators to relevant federal and state agencies for further potential action.

CB-075-2023 was introduced by Council Members Franklin, Harrison, and Hawkins. It was recently presented to the Council and referred to the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee. There are no further details about any public hearing or Committee hearing about CB-075-2023 at this time.


Bill text CB-075-2023, the Real Estate Appraisal Bias Ban of 2023



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