A black couple’s home was valued at 50% more when a white friend posed as the owner, reports claim.
Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate Austin gave their house a £287,000 ($400,000) makeover after buying the property in 2016.
They transformed the building, undergoing huge renovations including adding an entire floor with an extra 1,000ft of space, a deck and new appliances.
But when the property, in Marin City, California, was appraised, the couple were told its value was £710,000 ($989,000) – just £72,000 ($100,000) more than its value prior to the makeover.
Paul told ABC7 the estate agent was an older white woman.
They are convinced they were given a lower valuation, which Paul described as a ‘slap in the face’, because of they were black, the network reports.
Tenisha added: ‘I read the appraisal, I looked at the number I was like, “This is unbelievable.”’
The couple were eventually approved for a second appraisal – but asked a white friend to pose as Tenisha in a bid to confirm their suspicions.
Paul said: ‘We had a conversation with one of our white friends, and she said: “No problem. I’ll be Tenisha. I’ll bring over some pictures of my family.”’
‘She made our home look like it belonged to her.’
The couple were left ‘outraged’ when the property was valued at $1,482,000 (£1.05m) – almost 50% more.
‘There are implications to our ability to create generational wealth or passing things on if our houses appraise for 50% less,’ Tenisha said.
Jessica Lautz, of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), suggested discrimination is in ‘nearly every aspect of that home buying process’, adding: ‘We need to be addressing it as an industry.’
Just 34% of black Californians own a home, according to research from NAR – which claims black applicants are three times more likely to be rejected for mortgage loans than their white counterparts.
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