A Black couple living in California were outraged when their home was valued by $500,000 more after their white friend posed as the owner.
Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate Austin purchased their Marin City home back in 2016. They spent a substantial $400,000 on renovations before putting it back on the market. The couple built a new deck, added new floors, a fireplace, and kitted the home out with new appliances. The Austin’s also added an additional 1,000 square feet to the home.
The couple called out an appraiser to assess the property’s value, who priced the property at $989,000 — just $100,000 higher than the purchasing cost.
“I read the appraisal, I looked at the number I was like, ‘This is unbelievable,” Tenisha Austin said.
The couple then turned to a white friend and asked them to pose as the homeowner. “We had a conversation with one of our white friends, and she told ABC 7, ‘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.”
A second appraiser valued the home at $1,482,000 — almost double.
“I read the appraisal,” Tate Austin told ABC7. “I looked at the number I was like, ‘This is unbelievable.'”
Redlining has long been an issue for Black communities in America. The Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) describes redlining as “the practice of denying credit to residents of predominantly minority neighborhoods.”
The term comes from the outlining of areas with sizable Black populations in red ink on maps to warn mortgage lenders against lending to people of color. The system forces Black people to remain in neighborhoods that would yield lower investment levels compared to their white counterparts.
In the 1930s, half of all American mortgages were in arrears, so then-President Roosevelt’s New Deal introduced several initiatives — including the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to provide federal insurance for mortgage loans.
The programs were created before the civil rights era and were crafted to further segregate Black communities from whites and deny them access to homeownership.
“There are implications to our ability to create generational wealth or passing things on if our houses appraise for 50 percent less” than their value, said Tate Austin.
The national homeownership rate for Black families is 44%, versus 73.7% for white families.