The National Urban League and Wells Fargo have announced a $5 million grant to create the Diverse Appraiser Initiative, a new program that aims to increase diversity and reduce barriers to entry in the home appraisal industry. This effort will begin in early 2023.
The grant is expected to be allocated over five years with a goal of certifying up to 260 diverse appraisers. In addition to supporting the certification of trainees, the initiative includes entrepreneurship and small business development components with a focus on creating 130 potential new businesses.
The National Urban League will work with Wells Fargo to build a pipeline of diverse appraisers from three metro cities–Atlanta, Charlotte, and Houston–through Urban League Entrepreneurship Centers.
“We are delighted to continue working with the National Urban League to create more opportunities for underserved communities,” said Kristy Fercho, Wells Fargo Head of Diverse Segments, Representation, and Inclusion and continues to lead the Home Lending business. “We’re excited to mobilize the combined resources at Wells Fargo and the National Urban League to help address core barriers in appraiser certification and increase the number of diverse-owned appraisal businesses. This relationship will help to diversify the industry and improve customer confidence in home valuations.”
National Urban League will provide entrepreneurial training and support on business basics, including formation, business and financial management, and access to capital, to those trainees who are undergoing or have completed the certification process. The Urban League Entrepreneurship Centers will customize these programs for each trainee based on their experience, skill level, and interest.
“Racial discrimination in the home appraisal industry is a significant barrier to economic equity,” said National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial. “We’re proud to partner with Wells Fargo on this innovative project to open the doors of opportunity and bring a much-needed new approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion that we hope will serve as inspiration to others in the field and beyond.”
A Bureau of Labor Statistics survey indicated that 97% of appraisers are white. According to the Urban Institute, increased diversity in the appraiser profession may help address valuation bias for Black and Hispanic homeowners, which, in turn, can support more equitable homeownership outcomes.
The collaborative effort between Wells Fargo and the National Urban League complements existing commitments by both organizations to help promote fair and equitable home appraisals and advance racial equity in homeownership. In 2021, the National Urban League partnered with Fannie Mae to seek applicants for their Appraiser Diversity Initiative Sponsorship Program, which focused on attracting new entrants to the appraisal field, facilitating the transition into the appraisal profession, and helping to foster diversity in the appraisal community.
In May 2022, Wells Fargo identified 25 individuals to participate in the Appraisal Associate Program, a multi‑year commitment to hire and train individuals from underrepresented communities to become licensed residential appraisers (trainees were also successfully recruited for the program in 2016 and 2018). Ninety-two percent of the trainees are diverse.