African American Couple Reach Settlement Over Biased Appraisal

In 2016 Paul and Tenisha Tate Austin purchased a home for $550,000. The couple spent upwards of $400,000 in repairs and renovations which, in 2022, were complimented and recognized by the appraiser Janette Miller, who under-appraised the property at $995,000. After "whitewashing" their home and asking a white friend to stand in as the owner of the property, the couple received an appraisal of $1,482,500 - $487,500 less than what the home was actually worth.

“We did our homework, we believe the white lady wanted to devalue our property because we are in a Black neighborhood, and the home belonged to a Black family” said Tenisha Tate Austin. 

In 2020 the Austins filed a fair housing lawsuit against Janette Miller, her firm Miller and Perotti Real Estate Appraisers Inc. and AMC Links LLC. - for undervaluing their home by an astonishing $487,500 nearly the exact cost of the repairs and upgrades plus equity accrued in the home. 

In March of 2023 the lawsuit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Although the couple are glad to leave the lawsuit behind them, their case was one of many which perpetuates the wealth gap between African American families and the rest of the nation. 

Caroline Peattie, Executive director of the Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California (which sued along with the Austins) noted this as being a "landmark case" which illustrates a "dramatic example of how an unfairly low appraisal can affect your ability to access a loan with good terms and build generational wealth."

It is GlobalDMS' hope that buyer education combined with tools and policies set forth by the Biden Administration - to enforce fairness in the appraisal process, can guide America towards a future of socio-economic equality not only for African Americans but for all peoples who continue to be victims of discriminatory practices such as lowballing and redlining - both of which continue to perpetuate the wealth gap between African American and White families to this day.


Image by Doug Olson licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Topics: appraisal bias