A BLACK couple’s California home was valued at $480,000 MORE after their white friend pretended to own it.
The couple were appalled when they were first appraised for just over $100,000 than they paid for the house, despite spending around $400,000 to renovate it.
Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate Austin spoke about told KABC how they think their race was the reason their home in Marin City in the Bay Area was first valued so low.
The couple bought their home in 2016 for around $890,000.
They spent $400,000, and completely renovated the house, which was first built in the 1960's.
They added on another 1,000 square feet to the home, replaced appliances, added a fireplace, and more.
When they got their home appraised by a woman who they said was older and white, it was valued at $989,000.
This was just $100,000 more than the Austins had it valued at before beginning renovations.
"I read the appraisal, I looked at the number I was like, 'This is unbelievable'," Tanisha Tate Austin told KABC.
Paul called it "a slap in the face."
The couple said they think the appraisal had coded language – like that their town is a "distinct area" – and fought back to get a second one.
The Austins asked their friend, who is white, to pose as the homeowner the second time around, and staged pictures of her family in the house.
When they got the second appraisal, the Austins were shocked at the value – $1,482,000.
The home value jumped nearly $500,000 after the Austin's white friend posed as the owner.
The Austins are furious – and Tanisha Tate Austin noted "the implications of the ability to create generational wealth or pass things on" when their home was valued for half of what it's worth.
She added to KABC that if "implicit bias exists in other systems," surely it exists "in the housing market."
Home ownership and valuation disparities have long existed for Black communities due to systemic racism.
"Homes of similar quality in neighborhoods with similar amenities are worth 23 percent less ($48,000 per home on average, amounting to $156 billion in cumulative losses) in majority black neighborhoods, compared to those with very few or no black residents," a 2018 report from the Brookings Institute found.
Laws are in place to prevent race from playing a factor in home valuation – but one report September 2020 evaluating race and home valuing from The Kinder Institute found that disparities still exist.
A release on the report said "racial composition still drives unequal home values, despite laws that forbid real estate professionals from explicitly using race when evaluating a property’s worth."
The statement added: "Our research shows how using old, race-based sale prices ensured appraisers continued to define homes in white neighborhoods as worth more than similar homes in Black and Latino communities.
"Racism was baked into the system."
Others were outraged by the couple's story and called for accountability of the appraiser.
One person commented on Facebook: "Blatant racism, I’m so sorry. It must be exhausting to have to fight for fairness in all those areas white people take for granted."
Another wrote: "Unacceptable. I am so sorry-this is outrageous."
"We all want to believe this kind of treatment is a thing of the past. Obviously it's not. I'm so sorry you experienced this," one person commented.
"I just shared it to my Black Lives Matter page so people can understand that we are not making this stuff up! Systemic racism is real!!" another person wrote.
After sharing his story on Facebook, Paul Austin said of the response: "Reading the comments gives me hope as long as the conversation do not stop."
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