Business

Could your race affect your home's value? Air Canada agrees to COVID-19 refunds: CBC's Marketplace cheat sheet

CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need from the week.

Consumer and health news you need from the week

Three CBC employees of white, Black and South Asian background posed as owners of this house in Oakville, Ont., for Marketplace's investigation into racial bias in home appraisals. (David Macintosh/CBC)

Miss something this week? Don't panic. CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need. Want this in your inbox? 

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Race could affect home's estimated value

Almost a million home appraisals happen in Canada every year, and the outcomes can determine the terms of a mortgage or whether a homeowner can make use of equity for things like renovations or paying off debts.

Several real estate professionals and homeowners told CBC Marketplace that racial discrimination exists in the appraisal industry, but it's hard to prove. So we conducted a test to find out if an owner's race could affect the value of a home.

WATCH | Apprasial concerns not taken seriously, broker says:

Real estate broker says low home appraisal concerns weren't taken seriously

Marketplace

2 months ago
1:03
Chukwu Uzoruo says after he raised questions about the low estimate, his concerns were dismissed by the company that conducted the appraisal. 1:03

Three CBC employees of white, Black and South Asian background posed as homeowners of the same detached house in Oakville, Ont. Two appraisals were booked for each "homeowner," and the visits were documented with hidden cameras. Read more

Air Canada to offer refunds, sources say 

If you're holding onto a flight credit from Air Canada for a trip cancelled because of the pandemic, you might be able to get it converted into cash sometime soon. The company has agreed to offer refunds as part of a potential bailout package from the federal government, according to sources.

Unifor president Jerry Dias told CBC News he has spoken with both Air Canada and the federal government officials negotiating with the airline who confirmed that Air Canada agreed "a long time ago" to offer refunds in exchange for a bailout. Read more

Back in the fall, Marketplace reported on the fight for airline refunds.

Air Canada has agreed to offer refunds for flights cancelled because of the pandemic, according to sources. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Long-term care homes still breaking COVID-19 rules

Ten months into the COVID-19 pandemic, inspectors were still catching Ontario long-term care homes violating crucial infection prevention and control measures.

A CBC News data investigation has found one in 12 long-term care facilities in the province were caught breaking pandemic-specific government directives between June 2020 and January 2021. Many infractions occurred during or after outbreaks.

"To have egregious infractions in terms of not following standard operating procedure for things like infection prevention and control, these operators need to be held to account," said Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Read more

Marketplace has been investigating the challenges inside long-term care homes for years, including before the pandemic.

Geriatrician Dr. Nathan Stall says long-term care home operators not following COVID-19 rules must be held to account. (David Common/CBC)

What else is going on?

Faulty block heater blamed for car fire a day after vehicle was in shop for repair, lawsuit alleges
Manitoba Public Insurance sues Toyota Canada, Winnipeg auto dealership, over block heater that was subject to safety recall.

Ontario man battles Bell and contractor after worker uses power tool to clean his car
Owner compensated after Go Public inquiries, but expert says many others never see a dime.

This Co-op brand almond butter has been recalled due to undeclared cashew 
Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

This Goldroast brand cereal has been recalled due to undeclared milk 
Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

This week on Marketplace

CBC employees Serenity Palia, left, Stephanie Matteis, middle, and Asha Tomlinson, right, posed as homeowners to test the effect of race on home appraisals. (David Macintosh/CBC)

You've probably noticed that the real estate market is hot, extremely hot, despite the fact that we're still in the middle of a pandemic. 

So no doubt, there are a lot of appraisals happening right across Canada. When you think about the purpose of a home appraisal, it's supposed to be an "unbiased" estimate of the true or fair market value of a home. The outcome is critical for a mortgage or refinancing. It can also determine whether you can make use of equity for things like putting your kids through university or college.

But we've discovered that it's a highly subjective process and, in most of the country, not government-regulated. We've heard from many Black Canadians who say racial bias is flying under the radar.

This issue first caught my attention when my brother received a low appraisal on his home in California and believed race was a factor. He complained to the bank and got a much higher estimate, in line with other homes on the same street. Then the New York Times published an investigation last year featuring a mixed race couple who initially received a low appraisal. They then took down any signs that African-Americans lived in the home for their second appraisal. It came back 40 per cent higher.

Same deal with another American couple who had their white friend stand in for the second appraisal — the estimate was 50 per cent higher than the first. 

On our episode tonight, you'll hear from Black homeowners who are ready to speak out, sharing their experiences. We also conduct a first-of-its-kind test to find out if your race can affect the value of your home. Two CBC employees and I pose as homeowners of a rented house just outside Toronto. We get wired up with hidden cameras and document six appraisals happening in real time. The results are eye opening.  

And we bring one of our homeowners face-to-face with the industry.

You don't want to miss this very important investigation. 

Catch up anytime on CBC Gem.

— Asha Tomlinson and the Marketplace team

Marketplace needs your help

Do you get harassing phone calls demanding you owe the CRA money for unpaid taxes? Or callers claiming you've got a virus and need tech support? If so, we want to hear from you. We're hoping you can send us a video message detailing your experience so we may use it in our upcoming stories. 

Here's what we'd like you to include in your message to us:  

  1. Your name and where you're from.
  2. Which phone scam do you get called about the most? (e.g. CRA, tech support, SIN, bank investigator, etc.)
  3. How often do you get scam calls?
  4. How do you respond to the callers? (e.g. hang up, don't answer, confront them, etc.)
  5. Who do you think is responsible for cracking down on scammers?

You can email us at marketplace@cbc.ca or upload your video here. If you have any questions about the process, feel free to reach out to us by email for a full list of instructions.

Watch past episodes of Marketplace anytime on CBC Gem.

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