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A Black Couple Sues Appraiser, Alleges Racial Bias

At least three Black homeowners in three separate states have now “whitewashed” their home after a low appraisal only to see it reappraise for more money.

MARIN CITY, Calif. – A California couple has filed a housing discrimination lawsuit, alleging that an appraiser lowered the value of their home by nearly $500,000 because they’re Black.

Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate-Austin say their Marin City home in the San Francisco Bay area was appraised at $989,000 – much lower than previous appraisals done when refinancing. The couple says they invested $400,000 in renovations, including a 1,000-square-foot addition to the home, but the new appraisal showed their home value increased by only 10%.

The couple arranged for a second opinion from a different appraiser. This time, they asked a friend, who is white, to pretend to be the homeowner in “whitewashing” their home, as they called it. They removed family pictures and artwork or any indication that the homeowners were Black.

This time, the home appraised for nearly $1.5 million.

The couple is suing the first appraiser, who is white, claiming she was racially biased in her assessment. Their lawsuit has been widely reported by media outlets.

Other cases of minority homeowners taking steps to “whitewash” their homes for an appraisal have surfaced in Indiana and Ohio, with similar results raising their homes’ valuation, CBS reports.

Source: “Black Couple Files Lawsuit Claiming Home Value Was Underestimated by Half a Million Dollars Because of Their Race,” CBS News (Dec. 8, 2021) and “California Couple Says Appraiser Devalued Their Home By Nearly $500K Because They Were Black,” Blavity.com (Dec. 8, 2021)

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