A black couple from California are suing a real estate firm after their home went up in value by 50 per cent when they had a white friend pose as its owner.
Paul, 45, and Tenisha Tate Austin, 42, who are black and from Marin City near San Francisco had their home valued at $989,000 in January, having purchased it in 2016 for $550,000.
Following a second appraisal from a different lender the following month, they were shocked to find the home's value increased by a further $500,000. The couple credit 'whitewashing' the home of all signs of its owners' identity, and asking a Caucasian friend to pose as Tenisha for the second viewing as the reason for the jump in value.
The couple have now filed a fair housing lawsuit against appraiser Janette Miller, her firm Miller and Perotti Real Estate Appraisers, Inc. and national appraisal company AMC Links, LLC in the $487,500 discrepancy over the two valuations they received.
Paul, 45, and Tenisha Tate Austin, 45, say they believe race was the reason their home in Marin City in the Bay Area was undervalued by a realtor
Paul and Tenisha couple say the estate agent was an older white woman who used coded phrases like 'Marin City is a distinct area' when she valued the property which they believe was race-related.
The couple complained to their lender describing as 'a slap in the face' before the pair were finally approved for a second appraisal.
This time, the pair decided to run an experiment to see if their suspicions were right and got a white friend to pose as the owner.
They hid photographs and art work and replace it with their friend's photos.
'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.'
'There are implications to our ability to create generational wealth or passing things on if our houses appraise for 50% less,' Tenisha added.
The couple carried out $400,000 of significant renovations in the five years since buying the home including a brand new floor which added 1,000 sq feet of space, a fireplace, new appliances and an outdoor deck.
The couple bought their home in 2016 for around $890,000 but was valued at only $995,000 despite spending $400,000 on renovations
The couple carried out significant renovations in the five years since they had purchased the home including a brand new