A Black couple wary of a low appraisal of their California home says race was a factor after a white friend pretending to be the homeowner received an estimate nearly $500,000 higher.
Paul and Tenisha Tate Austin purchased the Marin City house in 2016 from another Black family, making $400,000 in renovations that would increase its value, a local ABC News affiliate reported.
The Bay Area house, which was originally built in the 1960s, ended up with another 1,000 square feet of space and a new story, as well as a new deck, floors, fireplace and appliances.
But when the couple had the house appraised, they were shocked to find out it was valued at just $989,000 — only $100,000 more than the appraised price prior to the renovations.
The Austins said an older white woman who conducted the appraisal used coded language like “Marin City is a distinct area” in her estimate, the affiliate reported.
“I read the appraisal,” Tenisha told the station. “I looked at the number. I was like, ‘This is unbelievable.’”
“It was like a slap in the face,” Paul added.
After successfully pushing their lender for another appraisal, the couple tried a different tack: bringing in a white friend to pose as the homeowner.
“She was like, ‘No problem, I’ll be Tenisha, I’ll bring over some pictures of my family,’” Paul told the ABC affiliate. “She made our home look like it belonged to her.”
The second appraiser valued the house at $1,482,000 — or nearly 50% more than the first estimate.
The Austins said their situation was just another example of the racism Black people face within the country’s housing market.
“There are implications of our ability to create generational wealth or pass things on if our houses appraise for 50% less than what it’s valued at,” Tenisha said.