Black and Latino families have had their homes appraised for up to $500,000 less than expected, and they believe racial bias played a significant factor. According to an ABC Owned Television Stations data analysis of more than 50 million home loans, refinance applications in predominantly Black neighborhoods are nearly five times more likely to be under-appraised than in white communities. The analysis also found home-purchase loans in Black neighborhoods are more than twice as likely to be appraised under value. To raise awareness on this systemic issue affecting families across America and to equip viewers with information on what they can do if they find themselves lowballed in an appraisal, ABC Owned Television Stations has produced “Our America: Lowballed,” with the trailer now available.
The documentary special will debut on ABC Owned Television Stations’ 24/7 streaming platforms, 32 connected TV apps across streaming platforms Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku and Hulu beginning Dec. 2, with a linear release across eight ABC stations the weekend of Dec. 5 – ABC7/WABC-TV New York, ABC7/KABC-TV Los Angeles, ABC7/WLS-TV Chicago, 6ABC/WPVI-TV Philadelphia, ABC7/KGO-TV San Francisco, ABC13/KTRK-TV Houston, ABC11/WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham and ABC30/KFSN-TV Fresno. The linear releases in each market will also include local stories on the issue of appraisal discrimination and homeownership produced by the Race & Culture teams in each market leading up to the premiere.
A 2018 report from the Brookings Institution estimates that homes in predominantly Black neighborhoods are devalued by $156 billion, an average of $48,000 per home. This amount is enough to finance 8 million four-year degrees and cover nearly all Hurricane Katrina damage. This is vital equity Black families lack access to in order to pay for college, start businesses, remodel homes or create a nest egg for future generations—creating intergenerational wealth.
“Many are familiar with the Austins, a Black family in California who had the appraised value of their home jump nearly $500,000 after whitewashing their house—stripping it of family photos, artwork, even toiletries—and having a friend, who is white, stand in during the appraisal,” remarks Julian Glover, the executive producer for “Our America: Lowballed” and Race, Culture and Social Justice reporter at ABC7/KGO-TV Bay Area. “When we broke the Austins’ story, countless families across the country came forward with similar experiences. Through this documentary, we are giving a voice to those who believe they have been hit by appraisal discrimination, equipping viewers with information needed to take action if they are lowballed, and engaging federal leaders to fix this problem that has been robbing Black and Latino families of billions in equity for generations.”
Glover’s reporting on issues of appraisal discrimination has earned regional Emmy® and Edward R. Murrow awards for excellence in reporting on issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
“Our America: Lowballed” continues Glover’s impactful reporting and profiles three separate cases of appraisal discrimination experienced by families in California and Indiana, whose home values jumped an average of $300,000 as a result of whitewashing their homes, having white friends stand in during the appraisal, and pushing back on unexpectedly low valuations.
This reporting on the devaluation of Black and Latino homes has spurred new state laws and led President Biden to create the Property Appraisal Valuation Equity task force to identify solutions to root out appraisal bias. In addition, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, also featured in the documentary, introduced legislation to combat appraisal bias with the Fair Appraisal and Inequity Reform legislation.
Reporting for “Our America: Lowballed” was facilitated by the Equity Report, which launched in September 2021, and is an unprecedented project by the ABC Owned Television Stations’ data journalism team to measure racial equity in each of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. The team gathered and analyzed more than 10 million data points across five quality-of-life categories impacting residents’ everyday lives: policing, housing, education, health, and environment. The equity gaps revealed by the data analysis are leveraged in “Our America: Lowballed” and have been used by ABC Owned Televisions and ABC News to produce stories focused on inequity in areas from home ownership and insurance access to classroom discipline and pollution.
If you suspect that you or someone you know may have been affected by a housing lowball, you can learn more on Lowballed.abc.
More information about ABC Owned Television Stations streaming channels can be found here: ABC7/WABC-TV New York, ABC7/KABC-TV Los Angeles, ABC7/WLS-TV Chicago, 6ABC/WPVI-TV Philadelphia, ABC7/KGO-TV San Francisco, ABC13/KTRK-TV Houston, ABC11/WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham and ABC30/KFSN-TV Fresno.