• Fri. May 13th, 2022

A black couple asked a white friend to show their house. The appraisal has increased by almost $ 500,000.

Tenisha Tate-Austin and her husband grew suspicious when the Northern California home they spent years renovating was rated by an appraiser far less than they expected.

So when they asked for a second opinion last year, a white friend claimed to own their house and they removed any illustrations and photos that could show that it actually belonged to a black family.

The new valuation for their home in Marin County was over $ 1.4 million and almost half a million dollars more than the previous estimate, they said.

“What this evaluation did was what we were actually asking the evaluators to do, not to consider race, not to consider neighborhoods and / or lines that have been drawn and perpetuated by the redlining.” Tate-Austin told CNN.

Last week, the couple filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco, arguing that racial discrimination played a role in their home’s low valuation.

Tenisha Tate-Austin and her husband grew suspicious when the Northern California home they spent years renovating was rated by an appraiser much lower than expected.

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CNN

Tenisha Tate-Austin and her husband grew suspicious when the Northern California home they spent years renovating was rated by an appraiser far less than they expected.

In their lawsuit, the Austin say, first assessor Janette Miller, who is a white woman, violated the Fair Housing Act when she took into account the family’s race and the racial demographics of the home’s location. for its evaluation.

“We shouldn’t have to go through this, we shouldn’t have to have our white friend replaced,” Austin said.

CNN has contacted Miller and his company, Miller & Perotti Real Estate Appraisals, which has also been named a defendant in the lawsuit, on several occasions for comment.

The Austines are seeking financial damages and have asked the court to ensure “permanently” that the defendants will not engage in discriminatory housing practices directly or through others, according to the lawsuit.

Houses in largely black areas are less valued

The Austin had spent three years renovating their home. Since 2016, they’ve added a patio, gas fireplace, renovated bathrooms and even increased the total square footage of the house, the couple said.

“We put a lot of time and effort into the home, and it didn’t happen overnight,” Tate-Austin said.

When Miller assessed their home last year, the Austin said she compared their home to those in areas with high black populations, according to the lawsuit.

The population of Marin County, where they live, is over 85% white, according to the US Census Bureau.

Research has shown that homes in predominantly black neighborhoods are less valued than homes in predominantly white neighborhoods, even when the housing type and income of the neighborhoods are the same. In average American neighborhoods where the population share is 50% black, homes are valued at about half the price of homes in neighborhoods without black residents, according to a recent study by the Brookings Institute.

Homes in predominantly black neighborhoods in the United States have been undervalued by an average of $ 46,000 over nearly a decade, according to an analysis by Redfin. The company examined more than 73 million single-family homes listed and sold between January 2013 and February 2021 and found a significant gap between homes sold in black and white neighborhoods.

Other owners hide their breed

Like the Austin, there have been other families of color who have recently withheld their race or identity when appraising their home.

In Indianapolis, a black woman previously told CNN that she did not disclose her race or gender in an application when preparing for an assessment. She kept the email connection and told the assessor that she would be out of town and her brother would be at her home during the assessment. Then a white friend impersonated his brother and met the assessor for him.

The appraised value more than doubled – this was her third appraisal – and that led her to file a fair housing complaint against the lenders and appraisers she had worked with, alleging racial discrimination.

The Austin’s said they attempted to “launder” their home because they knew about the home valuation gap and were not the first family to receive a lower home valuation.

The couple and their lawyers continue to plead their case, but said they want to speak out to encourage other families of color to fight if they think their property is worth more.

“I hope that at the highest level we can start to see systemic change and that people will be held accountable for the devaluing of black and brown lives because that is basically what they have given us. done, “said Paul Austin.

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