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Center for Policy Research

Property Tax Web Series

Attribute (Mis)Reporting and Appraisal Bias

Michael D. Eriksen, Chun Kuang, and Wenyu Zhu

February 2023


We assemble a property-level panel of appraiser reported attributes associated with 4.6 million loan applications from 2013 to 2017 to test whether attributes were consistently reported. Appraisers have an incentive to misreport property attributes to justify higher appraised values to ensure associated mortgage loans are approved. We find evidence of discrepancies in reported attributes consistent with an intention to inflate valuations, even when restricting to those recently reported by the same appraiser. Purposeful misreporting is identified in cases where appraisers who report attributes of the same comparable transaction as inferior when the associated subject property’s contract price exceeds alternative value estimates. We estimate that highly leveraged borrowers whose appraisals had inconsistently reported comparable transaction attributes were 13.3-14.3% more likely to become seriously delinquent in their loan payments.

This paper was presented by Michael Eriksen (Purdue) on February 24, 2023 as part of the 2022-2023 Syracuse-Chicago Webinar Series on Property Tax Administration and Design. Jim Conklin (University of Georgia) was the discussant for this presentation. Conklin comments on Eriksen's "Attribute (Mis)Reporting and Appraisal Bias."

This Syracuse-Chicago Webinar Series on Property Tax Administration and Design aims to gather insight and scholarship through domestic and international comparative studies with common threads to help reform and improve property tax administration and design in the U.S. and other countries facing similar problems.

For questions about the webinars, please contact Alyssa Kirk. For questions about this paper, please contact the author or authors.

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