After suspecting her home’s value was being low-balled, a Black woman homeowner in Indianapolis asked a white friend to stand in for her while the home was being appraised. The home’s value doubled in price afterwards.
Carlette Duffy said during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, two appraisers came to her home and estimated its value at $125,000. When her family friend, who is white, stood in her place during a third appraisal, the value increased to $259,000.
After reading the appraiser’s report after getting the lower value, Duffy said there were “red flags.” “The wording in it just sent out red flags. It said there were comps within the half mile, but it said the quality of construction of the other homes were far more superior to the quality of construction of my home,” she said.
After doing her own research, Duffy felt the report wasn’t accurate and asked for more information from the appraisal company. When that didn’t lead anywhere, she asked her friend to step in.
Months after the first appraiser came to her home, a determined Duffy reached out to another appraiser, keeping communication strictly to email. Duffy went even so far as to remove family photos, artwork, and books that might identify her race. She told the appraiser she would be out of town before the scheduled appointment, and that her brother –– who was really her friend’s husband, who is white –– would be there to meet the new appraiser.
When the appointment was over, Duffy’s home value was set at $259,000, marking a more than 40% increase from the initial estimate she was given.
Duffy along with the Fair Housing Center for Central Indiana filed a fair housing complaint against the appraisers and mortgage lenders involved in the incident.
“I’m excited, vindicated, relieved, angry, extremely peeved since I can say the other expletives that were running through me at that point in time –– destroyed that I had to go through all of that,” Duffy said. “This is real… just being able to prove it is the hard part.”
A recent study by Redfin found that nationally, homes owned by Black people are undervalued by an average of $46,000.
Photo: Getty Images