State Watch

Black couple sues appraiser for valuing home at $500,000 more when ‘whitewashed’

Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate-Austin filed a lawsuit in federal district court this week after an appraiser in 2020 valued their California home at nearly $500,000 less than it was worth earlier that year. 

The appraiser valued the Black couple’s Bay Area home at $995,000, notably less than the $1,482,500 it was supposedly worth 10 months prior when their white friend sat in the kitchen and pretended to be the owner. At that time, they also “whitewashed” their home by hiding family photos and artwork, according to The San Francisco Chronicle

Now, the couple are suing Janette Miller as well as her firm Miller and Perotti Real Estate Appraisers Inc. and a national firm, AMC Links LLC. They will seek a jury trial, payment for damages and a court order that would require the appraisers to take steps to ensure the alleged discriminatory practices do not continue, the Chronicle reported.

“We did our homework,” Austin said to the state’s Reparations Task Force in October, according to the Chronicle. “We believe the white lady wanted to devalue our property because we are in a Black neighborhood, and the home belonged to a Black family.”

Attorneys for Austin and Tate-Austin argue that “Marin City has a long history of undervaluation based on stereotypes, redlining, discriminatory appraisal standards, and actual or perceived racial demographics,” the Chronicle added.

The newspaper also noted that research from the Brookings Institute found that owner-occupied homes in majority-Black neighborhoods throughout the U.S. are undervalued by an average of about $48,000 per home.

The Hill has reached out to Austin and Tate-Austin’s attorney as well as to Miller’s firm and AMC Links LLC for comment. 

Tags home appraisal

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