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Black Homeowner’s Appraisal Doubles After White Friend Poses as Owner

For most homeowners in a hot housing market, the value of their property tends to rise dramatically. But not for Carlette Duffy. Her home seemed not to rise in value much at all, and Duffy couldn’t find a satisfactory explanation--that is, until the answer was too obvious to ignore.

Duffy was looking to borrow against its equity when she got an appraisal for her home. She was surprised when the appraised amount was $125,000, which seemed low compared to the findings she’d seen anecdotally from other friends and family. So, she had another appraisal done, and the second came out at just $110,000, just ten thousand more than when she’d bought the place four years prior.

Nagged by her suspicions that the lowball offers were because she was African-American, Duffy again got a third appraisal. But this time, she took pains not to reveal her racial identity, by corresponding via email, and asking a friend’s white husband to stand in during the appraiser’s visit to the home. That appraisal came back at $259,000--more than double the original amount.

The rep who conducted the second appraisal claimed that his work was driven by relevant data. But according to Andre Perry, a researcher who studies housing discrimination, that explanation fails to account for the history of institutional racism in real estate.

Perry said, "It's almost when people see Black neighborhoods, they see twice as much crime than there actually is. They see worse education than there actually is. I think this is what's happening when appraisers, lenders, real estate agents see Blackness. They devalue the asset. They devalue the property."

Duffy has since teamed up with the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana to file a complaint with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Possible Preaching Angle:

We dishonor the image of God when we are unwilling to treat people of other racial groups equally. We are all God's creative masterpieces, and we should be treated as such.

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