‘Wanted to Devalue Our Property’: California Couple Wants to Hold Appraiser Accountable for Lowballing Home By $500K, Files Lawsuit

San Francisco Bay Area homeowners Paul and Tenisha Tate-Austin have filed a fair housing lawsuit in a federal district court against Janette Miller and her appraisal firm Miller and Perotti Real Estate Appraisers Inc., whose valuation of their home was almost $500,000 less than its true value. 

The couple is requesting a jury trial, compensation for financial damages, and that for the court to have appraisers take the necessary training to curtail bias in the valuation process.  

Paul Austin and his wife Tenisha Tate Austin say their Marin City home was valued at just $100,000 more than what they bought it for even after the couple staged major renovations to the property, costing them $400,000. Photo: ABC7 YouTube screenshot.

“We did our homework,” Austin told the Reparations Task Force in a panel on the racial wealth gap in October. “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.”

In 2016 the couple purchased their home for $550,000 and then, over the next few years, invested $400,000 in renovations that included an in-law unit and an outdoor deck. Four years later, the couple was eager to know the new value of their home and hired an appraiser.

The appraiser, whom the couple described to local station ABC7 as an older white woman, was impressed with the addition of windows that overlooked the San Francisco Bay. She also complimented the other improvements. And then came a shocker: the appraisal value was set at $995,000, almost $500,000 less than an appraisal done earlier in the year.

The couple was stunned and after learning about appraisal discrimination, they decided to get another appraisal done. But this time, the couple asked Joe, a white friend, to pose as the owner of the property. And once again, when the appraisal was determined, the couple was shocked. The house was now worth $1.4 million. 

Read full story at Finurah here.

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