Sen. Nellie Pou (Daniella Heminghaus for New Jersey Monitor)
A New Jersey Senate committee advanced a bill Monday that would penalize real estate professionals who make discriminatory residential appraisals based race, creed, color, or national origin.
The bill would also require appraisers to provide property sellers with information about how to report suspected discrimination to the state Division of Consumer Affairs.
Offenders face fines or can have their license, certification, or registration suspended or revoked if investigators determine discrimination occurred.
The Senate Community and Urban Affairs committee agreed unanimously to move it forward. Sen. Nellie Pou (D-Passaic) introduced it last month.
“It’s a matter of fairness all the way around,” Pou said. “It’s the right thing to do to make sure appraisals are actually based on the property assessment as opposed to who the property owner is or their race or any other discriminatory basis.”
Black homeowners nationwide have reported they received higher appraisals for their properties when they did not let appraisers know their race.
Historically, racist real estate practices like red-lining have contributed to a racial wealth gap in New Jersey that is one of the worst in the nation. The median net worth for white families in New Jersey is $352,000, compared to $6,100 for Black families, and $7,300 for Latino families, according to the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.
That gap drove Gov. Phil Murphy to create a Wealth Disparity Task Force in September.
A companion Assembly bill has yet to be heard by a committee in that chamber.
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