Latest Update May 8, 2024

Court Rules Alabama Association of Real Estate Brokers May Intervene To Defend Representation On Alabama’s State Board In AAER v. Ivey

Montgomery, AL — A federal court in Alabama has issued an order granting in part a request from the Alabama Association of Real Estate Brokers (AAREB) to intervene to defend the state’s longstanding law that aims to ensure racial, gender, geographic, urban/rural, and economic representation on the state’s appraisers board.

Read the Press Release

State boards should reflect the communities they serve – and the Alabama law that promotes inclusion of a range of views and diverse racial and other backgrounds is in the best interest of Alabamians and crucial to maintaining a healthy democracy. 

For the past three decades, Alabama has had a law ensuring both that racial minorities are on the appraisers board and that decision-making bodies reflect the communities who have to live with their decisions. That law has played an important role in helping to address the ongoing and historical racial discrimination in housing and lending that has impacted Black Alabamians.

Specifically, appraisals are foundational to mortgage lending and home-buying, which in turn create household wealth. Discriminatory appraisals can prevent refinancing, lower the sales prices, or even jeopardize the sale of a home. Across the country, significant racial inequities in real estate appraisals exist and the lack of racial and other diversity in the profession, and regulation of the profession, has undoubtedly contributed to those gaps. In fact, the Alabama minority homeownership gap is under the national average, with research showing that white homeownership at 77.9% and minority homeownership at 55.2% – a gap of nearly 23 percent.  

Alabama’s laws that promote representation and inclusion are being threatened, however, in the latest in a nationwide, anti-democratic, regressive legal strategy of challenging diversity-related practices seeking to turn back the clock.

On February 13, 2024, the American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER) sued Alabama Governor Kay Ivey in federal court for allegedly discriminating against a white woman, a member of its organization, when she applied to Alabama’s Real Estate Appraisers Board. 

AAER alleges that the state’s pro-diversity law–including a requirement to appoint at least two racial minorities and a general inclusion requirement that applies to the Board–is unconstitutional. AAER is seeking to have the Governor barred from enforcing these provisions. This case is one of at least seven challenges to board composition provisions being litigated across the country, including in Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Montana, and more, and is part of a nationwide, anti-democratic, regressive strategy of challenging diversity-related practices seeking to turn back the clock.

The case requires the input and perspective of the people who will be most seriously affected if the plaintiffs get their way, so, on April 26, 2024, Democracy Forward represented the Alabama Association of Real Estate Brokers (AAREB), a trade association and civil rights advocacy organization for Black real estate professionals, in asking the Middle District of Alabama to allow AAREB to intervene in the case

AAREB seeks to defend the Alabama law that promotes diversity and inclusion on Alabama’s Real Estate Appraisers Board, which is critical to addressing racial inequities in the housing industry and the real estate profession. 

Alabama’s Real Estate Appraisers Board governs licensure for appraisers and determines whether and when its members face investigations and discipline. Having a racially and otherwise diverse board is crucial for fairness both for the industry and for those who are appraisers or seeking to become appraisers. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has indicated to the court that she may not defend existing law in Alabama that requires at least two racial minorities on this appraisal board of nine members, and a more general requirement related to inclusion.  

Represented by Democracy Forward and Martin Weinberg, on April 26, 2024, the Alabama Association of Real Estate Brokers filed a motion to intervene to ensure communities with the most at stake in Alabama have a voice in the litigation and that the state’s representation law is defended. Finding that the case raises “a topic of great magnitude” that “could impact public appointments well beyond the Alabama Real Estate Appraisers Board,” the court rejected the Governor and AAER’s opposition to the motion, and on May 8, 2024, ruled to allow the Alabama Association of Real Estate Brokers to intervene to defend the state’s board representation law.