A California couple says they were lowballed on a home appraisal because of their race. Paul and Tenisha Austin say the value of their renovated home skyrocketed 50% after a white friend met with the appraiser.
The Austins purchased their Bay Area home from another Black couple in 2016. After completing $400,000 in renovations, including adding 1,000 square feet to the home, they decided to put the house on the market in 2020.
The appraiser, an older white woman, told the Austins the house was worth $989,000 -- just $100,000 more than the original purchase price. The Austins are convinced race was a factor.
"I read the appraisal, I looked at the number I was like, 'This is unbelievable'," Tenisha Austin told the Atlanta Black Star.
"It was a slap in the face," said Paul Austin.
After discussing the situation with a white friend, the woman agreed to pretend the Marin City home was her own.
"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,'" Paul told Atlanta Black Star.
The ploy worked. The home appraised for $1,482,000 -- or close to $500,000 more than the original appraisal weeks earlier.
The Austins' story only added to the frustrations of Black first-time homebuyers who are often rejected for home mortgages based on their race.
According to the Census Bureau, 44 percent of Black families owned a home in the first quarter of 2020, compared to nearly 74 percent of white families.
"Half of all blacks born between 1956 and 1965 were homeowners by the age of 50, but blacks born from 1966 to 1976 have a homeownership rate of just 40 percent," said Donnell Williams, president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.
"If trends continue, black millennials may not even reach a homeownership rate of 40 percent by the time they turn 50," he added.