A black California couple has filed a lawsuit alleging housing discrimination, saying that an appraiser reduced the value of their home by almost $500,000 because of their skin color.
The couple – Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate-Austin – said in their complaint that their Marin City home in San Francisco Bay was appraised at just $989,000, which is much lower than previous appraisals they had done when refinancing.
Not only that, the couple argues that if anything the appraised value should be higher, as they have invested $400,000 in renovations since those earlier appraisals, adding a 1,000 square-foot extension to the home, among other things. However, the appraised value showed that their home’s value only rose by 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.