set up by a black couple trial With a property appraiser who appraised his California home at almost half a million dollars.
Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate-Austin’s four-bedroom residence in luxurious Sausalito, near San Francisco, was valued at $998,000 by Janet Miller, co-owner of Miller & Perotti Real Estate Appraisers. This figure was $455,000 less than the assessment done for prior mortgage refinances in 2019.
Realizing that his house was worth a lot of money, Austin asked a white friend of his to pose as the owner of his residence. They had the house reevaluated—and it was suddenly worth $1.48 million.
Austin decided to sue Miller and his company, claiming that his evaluation was “a direct product of racial discrimination”.
The case has now been settled out of court, with Miller agreeing to pay the couple an undisclosed amount. The settlement also included an unusual twist: The appraiser was also required to see “Our America: Lowbold,” a documentary about him “white” saga.
Paul Austin, 47, “Experiencing everything that comes with getting a lowball assessment was overwhelming.” said in a statement, “Being able to tell our story and knowing we had legal recourse helped.”
Wife Tenisha, 43, said: “The ongoing devaluation of homes in black neighborhoods perpetuates the wealth gap between black and white families. We hope that by focusing on our case and the settlement of this lawsuit, we will can help change the way the industry operates, and we may start to see a different trend.
Austin bought the home in 2016 for $550,000, feeling he had gotten “a piece of the American Dream”. ABC 7 informed of.
The four-bedroom, two-bathroom home is in Sausalito, which is famous for being one of the most expensive zip codes in the country. According to realtor, The average listing price for a property in the upscale enclave is $2 million.
Several years after purchasing the home, Austin decided to have it appraised, with an expert saying it was worth around $890,000.
The couple later decided to renovate the home, which was built in the 1960s, pouring more than $400,000 into an overhaul, adding an entirely new level, as well as a new deck, a fireplace, and flashy new appliances. .
When Jeanette Miller appraised the home in 2020 she believed the home would be worth over $1 million and was stunned by the $998,000 figure.
“It was a slap in the face,” Paul told ABC 7, while his wife said the yoga felt “incredible.”
Austin was eventually approved for a second appraisal with Miller and Perotti real estate appraisers—but this time decided to keep one of his white friends as the homeowner.
“We chatted with a white friend of mine, and she said ‘No problem. I’ll be Tanisha. I’ll bring some pictures of my family,'” Tanisha recalled. “She made our house look like it was hers. “
The house was reevaluated at $1.48 million—about $500,000 more than it had been worth just weeks earlier.
“If our homes appraise at 50% less than they’re worth, there’s an impact on our ability to build generational wealth or take things forward,” Tanisha told ABC7.
decided to sue austin Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California Participating in litigation as a co-plaintiff.
Miller’s attorneys initially rebutted the claims of racism, writing in a counterclaim to the suit: “Without any direct (or indirect) evidence, there is nothing inherently racist about choosing comparable properties. which are situated in the same city as the subject property.” Actual racial discrimination, Miller’s substitute for comparable properties, cannot support Plaintiff’s claim of discrimination.”
However, the property appraiser eventually agreed to an out-of-court settlement.
“I think everyone involved with the case was ready to move forward,” said Carolyn Pittie, Fair Housing’s executive director. San Jose Mercury News,
“Apparently we felt we had a strong case or we would not have taken it any further,” he said. ,[But] It is one thing to file a case on the strength of the evidence and how the judge will rule is a different question. You are never assured of any particular result.