Black couple in US saw home value skyrocket after white friend pretended to be the homeowner
- A Black couple in California saw their home's value shoot up when a white friend posed as its owner.
- Paul and Tenisha Tate Austin were told their home was worth $989,000.
- When a white friend met with an appraiser, she was told the home was worth $1.4 million.
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A Black couple living in the Bay Area discovered their house was actually worth hundreds of thousands more than they had been told after a white friend stepped in and posed as the homeowner.
Paul Austin and his wife Tenisha Tate Austin purchased their Marin City home in 2016. After completing around $400,000 worth of renovations and updates to the house, they put it back on the market.
The Austins added an entirely new floor, a deck, and updated old appliances, according to ABC 7.
An appraiser who visited the home to assess the value of the property said it was only worth $989,000, just $100,000 more than when they originally purchased it, despite the renovations adding an additional 1,000 square feet to the home.
"I read the appraisal, I looked at the number I was like, 'This is unbelievable'," Tenisha Austin told the Atlantic Black Star.
So the Austins decided to perform an experiment: A white friend of theirs posed as the owner of the home, adding photos and personal touches to make it seem like she lived there, and called in another appraiser to evaluate the house. The second appraiser said the house was worth $1,482,000 - about 50% more than the initial appraisal.
The Austins say that their experience with the appraiser is symptomatic of a larger pattern of discrimination in the housing market. In August, The New York Times reported on a similar situation in which a mixed-race couple found that their home appraisal went up by 40% when all signs of Black ownership were removed.
The practice of redlining, in which housing lenders denied loans and homeownership to people from certain demographic backgrounds in order to control the racial makeup of a neighbourhood, wasn't outlawed until 1968, but its effects continue to be felt more than 50 years later.
"There are implications to our ability to create generational wealth or passing things on if our houses appraise for 50 percent less than its value," Tenisha Austin told Atlanta Black Star.
Marin City, where the Austins live, is a historically Black community located just north of San Francisco. A 2015 report on the city said that encroaching gentrification threatened to destroy the culture of the community, especially as older residents of color passed away and their younger relatives were unable to maintain their mortgages.
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