A Marin County, California-based real estate appraiser must participate in housing discrimination prevention training under a legal settlement revealed Monday after she valued a black couple’s house at $500,000 lower than two other appraisals did, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate-Austin’s lawsuit alleged that Miller and Perotti Real Estate Appraisers’ Janette Miller appraised the couple’s Marin City home at $995,000 in 2020 after a 2019 appraisal valued it at $1.45 million, the outlet reported. The Austins reportedly got a third appraisal in which they removed evidence of their race from the house and had only a white friend present, recording a $1.48 million valuation, according to SiliconValley.com.
The couple’s lawsuit alleged Miller’s valuation was founded on sale prices it deemed “the direct product of racial discrimination,” claiming the valuation made some adjustments to the house’s value due only to its Marin City location, she made a comment about the incorporated community’s “distinct marketability” and compared the home to property sales exclusively or primarily located there, the website reported. Miller compared three Marin City properties and three elsewhere, while the later appraiser factored in two Marin City properties and six Sausalito properties. (RELATED: Lori Lightfoot Blames Loss In Heavily Democratic City On Racism, Sexism)
Sausalito’s population is about 1% black, while Marin City’s black residents make up around 36% of its population, the Chronicle reported.
“There is nothing inherently racist about choosing comparable properties that are located in the same city as the Subject Property,” Miller’s lawyers argued in January 2022, according to SiliconValley.com. “Without any direct (or indirect) evidence of actual racial discrimination Miller’s choice of comparable properties cannot support Plaintiff’s claim of discrimination.”
Under the settlement’s terms, Miller must watch the ABC documentary “Our America: Lowballed” detailing the case, and she and her company must compensate the Austins to an undisclosed extent, the Chronicle reported.
“Having to erase our identity to get a better appraisal was a wrenching experience,” Tate-Austin said, according to the outlet. “We hope by bringing attention to our case and this lawsuit settlement, we can help change the way the appraisal industry operates.”
Miller did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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