Black couple sues appraiser for $500k less home than white friend

The Austins ‘wiped out’ their house and let a white friend pose as the owner and found its value had increased by 50% (Image: ABC7)

A black couple is suing a real estate company, alleging a white appraiser valued their home at nearly $500,000 because of their race.

Paul, 45, and Tenisha Tate Austin, 42, were shocked beyond belief when their Marin City home in the San Francisco Bay Area was worth $989,000. Over the course of five years, the couple did major $400,000 renovations to the home, including a new floor, creating another 1,000 square feet of space, a new deck, fireplace, and other features. other improvements.

But Their home’s value only increased by 10%..

‘It was a slap in the face,’ Austin said KGO-TV in February.

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Three weeks later, the couple decided to take a different opinion, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco, California.

During a second appraisal by another lender, they enlisted the help of their white friend Jan, who agreed to pose as Tenisha.

According to the lawsuit, the Austins ‘whitewashed’ their home by deleting family photos and stripping the walls of their African-themed artwork. Jan helped the couple by providing photos of her own family to place around the house.

‘We had a conversation with one of our white friends, and she said. “No problem. I’ll be Tenisha. I’ll bring in some pictures of my family.” She makes our house feel like it belongs to her,’ Tenisha said, according to Daily mail.

Real estate appraiser Janette Miller is being sued along with her company, Miller & Perotti Real Estate Appraisals (Image: Lorin Rhaney)

She added: “There are impacts on our ability to create wealth generation after generation or pass on things if our home is valued at 50% less than it is worth.

The Austins’ lawsuit alleges that the first appraiser, Janette Miller, undervalued them because they were black.

A couple of Northern California nonprofit fair housing advocates are currently suing Miller and her company, Miller & Perotti Real Estate Appraisals of San Rafael, Washington Post reported.

They are seeking financial damages and are asking the court to order the defendants to ensure that they will not discriminate in their home appraisals.

The couple invested about $400,000 in a major renovation to their Bay Area home, but its value initially only increased by 10% (Image: Google)

Paul told the state’s compensation task force in October that he believes the property has depreciated ‘because we’re in a black neighborhood, and the house belongs to a black family’ .

Attorneys for Fair Housing Advocates, who represent themselves and the Austin family, did not immediately respond to Metro’s requests for comment.

Jessica Lautz, of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), said discrimination is present in ‘nearly every aspect of that home-buying process’, adding, ‘We need to. tackle it like an industry’.

According to research from NAR, only 34% of black Californians own a home, claiming that black applicants are three times more likely to be rejected for mortgage loans than whites.

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Huynh Nguyen

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