AUSTIN (KXAN) — In comparing similar homes with similar amenities in neighborhoods of the same economic status, researchers found homes in white areas were appraised at double the value of homes in communities of color, according to a new report. Further, they said the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this trend. 

Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., conducted the research – they analyzed over 32 million home appraisals in metropolitan regions with populations of over 500,000 across the country. The researchers only included cities with at least 50,000 people of color in the analysis. They found homes in white neighborhoods were appraised as worth $371,000 more than homes in communities of color.

“Racial inequality in home values directly contributes to persistent racial wealth gaps and residential segregation, which in turn influences racial inequalities in health, income, and educational outcomes,” the report read. 

Adam Perdue, an economist at the Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center, said the results of this study are unsurprising and this phenomenon exists in Texas cities. 

“The same background systematic issues that the (Washington University) researchers have been able to find across the country are present here in the state of Texas, too,” Perdue said. 

“(Racism) is a large driver of the continuing differences. You don’t end Jim Crow and then expect people who have been slaves and oppressed for 150 years to just catch up,” he continued. 

An appraisal is an evaluation of a home’s property market value. The report said it is illegal for appraisers to use the racial makeup of a neighborhood as a justification of their appraised value but they are encouraged to evaluate multiple “neighborhood factors,” including education, household income, development and construction and public services. 

Despite its legal status, Perdue said there is still “persistent discrimination” in home appraisals. 

“This has been shown in research when appraisers find out if the homeowner is a person of color, they will adjust the appraisal value lower,” Perdue said. “A lot of research studies have found differences in appraisals based on the pictures in the home and the races that are shown in those pictures,” he continued. 

Last month, the Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board (TALCB) and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Civil Rights Division formed a partnership to help Texans who feel they are experiencing discrimination in their home appraisal. 

“The partnership between TWC and TALCB means Texas consumers affected by appraisal bias can trust that their complaints will be investigated from every angle by professionals with deep knowledge in both fair housing and appraiser industry standards and regulations,” said TALCB Commissioner Chelsea Buchholtz.

The partnership allows Texans to easier file complaints to either agency if they feel there is bias in their home appraisal. 

Perdue said the history of racism in the country makes it difficult for these modern issues to become undone. 

 “There’s still a lot of rules and policies and procedures that just really are discriminating against lower-income people,” Pursue said. “(This is) because of our long-term history discriminating primarily against people of color.”