California home owners experienced racism and discrimination when they were getting an appraisal for their Bay Area home.
“It was work, but it was exciting,” Paul Austin, a homeowner in Marin City said according to ABC 7.
He and his wife Tenisha Tate Austin feel like they captured a slice of the American dream when they purchased their first home together in 2016.
The couple secured an original Marin City pole home, however, faced challenges in buying the property.
“As soon as like a house came on the market, you go in, you put your bid in, and then you get outbid by like, $100,000 or more, rather quickly,” Austin said. “That can be a little bit depressing.”
The Austin’s bought the home off-market from another Black family, who were hoping to make homeownership a reality for a black couple. Once moving into their home, which was built in the 1960s, the Austin’s got major renovations done. The couple added an entire floor, more than another 1,000 square feet of space, building a deck, new floors, a fireplace, and new appliances.
The Austin’s got the home appraised.
“I read the appraisal, I looked at the number I was like, ‘This is unbelievable’,” Tate Austin said
The family told ABC7 that their appraiser was an older white woman. The Austin’s believe race was a factor in her estimate.
The appraisal contains what the family believes was coded language, like “Marin City is a distinct area.”
The home appraised for $989,000, or just $100,000 more than what the Austin’s got it appraised for prior to their renovations, despite $400,000 in costs.
“It was a slap in the face,” said Austin.
The family called their lender and pushed back after a month of escalating their complaints, the Austin were approved for a second appraisal.
When the next appraisal came the couple got creative.
“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,’” Austin said. “She made our home look like it belonged to her.”
The home appraised for $1,482,000 approx. $500,000 more than it appraised for just weeks prior.
The change was equal to a nearly 50% increase in value.
The Austin’s were outraged. “There are implications to our ability to create generational wealth or passing things on if our houses appraise for 50% less than its value,” said Tate Austin.
“We know discrimination is in nearly every aspect of that home buying process,” said Jessica Lautz, National Association of Realtors vice president of demographics and behavioral insights. “We need to be addressing it as an industry.”