- Redo Underway on Wash Ave Warehouse Just off Hempstead Where Restaurant, Retail, Offices Will Move In [HBJ ($); previously on Swamplot]
- Manhattan Life Acquires Northwest Houston Office Building [Realty News Report]
- Tilman Fertitta’s Post Oak Hotel Now Open in Uptown [abc13]
- Harris County To Consider Today Buying Shuttered Riverside Hospital Property in the Third Ward [Houston Chronicle]
- Sociologists’ Study Finds Houston’s Appraisal Industry Reinforces Racial Inequality [The Urban Edge]
- Zillow Names Houston a Top Real Estate Market for First-Time Homebuyers [Culturemap]
- Liberty County Now Suing Arkema Chemical Plant in Crosby for Contamination After Harvey Flooding [Houston Public Media; previously on Swamplot]
- Why a School Desk Has Been at the Top of a Hill in Alpine, Texas, for Nearly 40 Years [Houston Chronicle]
Photo of Near Northside: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool
There are a lot of ways to bark up the racism-in-real-estate tree, but Urban Edge always seems to highlight the most logically tenuous arguments. This article veers absurd. Appraisers are forbidden by law from discussing or rationalizing things in racial terms, and so they don’t. It is not the fault of the profession, of bureaucratic entities, or of individuals (although the lower-level individuals that HCAD hires are often incompetent enough to believe otherwise and misspeak to the public, to the ARB, and to researchers apparently). It is the law. To work around any mention of race while also accurately estimating the value of homes in various neighborhoods, they calibrate their valuation models to sales comparables and apply catch-all adjustment factors. They can’t pick do that and also choose adjustment factors based on a factor such as the neighborhood’s crime rate or its proximity to a park because that’d double-dip. It isn’t mathematically possible, and besides which it overcomplicates the mass appraisal process and introduces more possibilities for major errors. And HCAD does make major errors, so simplicity is their friend.
Mark my words: any researcher of appraisal practices that uses Zillow for any reason other than to mock Zillow is a poor researcher indeed.