Black Couple Sue Real Estate Agency After 'Race Was The Only Reason Home Was Undervalued'
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A black couple from California have sued a real estate agency after their home increased in value by 50 percent when a white friend posed as their owner.
Paul, 45, and Tenisha Tate Austin, 42 had their home valued at $989,000 (£748,000) by an appraiser in January, having originally purchasing it for $550,000 in 2016, ABC7 reports.
However, it's value shot up by roughly $500,000 (£378,000) when the couple got a white friend to pose as Tenisha and the value increased to $1,482,000 (£1,120,000).
The couple have filed a fair housing lawsuit against Janette Miller, her firm Miller and Perotti Real Estate Appraisers, Inc. and national appraisal company AMC Links, LLC for the $487,500 (£368,500) difference in price with regard to the two valuations.
They say the estate agent who gave the first valuation used phrases such as 'Marin City is a distinct area', which they believe was race related.
The homeowners describe it as 'a slap in the face' prior to their second appraisal being approved.
Tenisha 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.
"There are implications to our ability to create generational wealth or passing things on if our houses appraise for 50 percent less.
"I read the appraisal, I looked at the number I was like, 'This is unbelievable'."
The husband and wife are seeking a jury trial in relation to racial bias whilst wanting to press charges.
Paul added: "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.
"My stomach hurt, my head hurt, just because of what we went through.
"I don't wish that on anybody. I want to see a change.
"I don’t want to see my children have to deal with this."
Julia Howard-Gibbon, an attorney for the couple, said: "There are definitely things about this complaint that are uniquely strong.
"They erased themselves from the home, essentially."
Attorneys for the Austins noted: "Marin City has a long history of undervaluation based on stereotypes, redlining, discriminatory appraisal standards, and actual or perceived racial demographics."
LADbible have contacted Miller & Perotti for comment.