• Mon. Nov 28th, 2022

Company named in Marin County real estate valuation bias lawsuit wins settlement

ByWillie M. Evans

Oct 22, 2022

A settlement has been reached with one of the named parties in a lawsuit that has drawn national attention for its allegations of racial bias in a Marin County home appraisal.

A nonprofit fair housing legal advocacy group that filed the federal lawsuit with the landlords has announced a settlement agreement with AMC Links LLC, a Utah-based appraisal management company named in the federal lawsuit of December 2021 filed by owners Tenisha and Paul Tate-Austin. The terms of the agreement are confidential.

But the case is pending against the other defendants — appraiser Janette Miller and her company of San Rafael, Miller and Perotti Real Estate Appraisals Inc. of San Rafael, according to Caroline Peattie, executive director of Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California.

“We are now in the discovery phase, and the case is due to go to trial in the fall of 2023,” Peattie told the Business Journal in an email Wednesday.

According to the complaint, Miller’s valuation of the home was based on the couple’s race, which is black, and the Marin City neighborhood. The couple bought a Pacheco Street home in Marin City for $550,000 in December 2016 and refinanced it in 2020.

Miller appraised the house at $995,000. The couple thought it was low and asked another reviewer to rate it. But first, they removed indications of the owners’ racial background. That valuation came in at $1.48 million, close to Marin’s median market value at the time, according to court documents.

Attorneys for Miller and his firm filed a response in mid-September to an amended complaint, denying the allegations and calling for a jury trial.

The real estate industry has come to terms with the biases in business in recent years. The National Association of Realtors released new guidelines in 2020 to guard against discrimination.

And earlier this month, the California Association of Realtors issued an apology for its 1950s and 1960s endorsement of “racial zoning, ‘redlining,’ and racial covenants” and its opposition to early housing laws. fair state housing.

Peattie said her organization had filed two other racial bias administrative assessment complaints. One belongs to the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity group of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the other to the California Department of Civil Rights.

She said the agencies are investigating the allegations, but the issues have yet to be resolved.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Before joining the Business Journal in 1999, he wrote for Bay City News Service in San Francisco. Contact him at [email protected] or 707-521-4256.