*A Black woman in Indianapolis, Indiana, has filed a discrimination lawsuit after her home received a higher appraisal only after she got rid of anything that identified her blackness, and had a white man stand in for her during the appraisal visit.
Carlette Duffy said the value of her home jumped by more than $100,000 after she removed family photos, Black artwork and any Black-themed books. She filed housing discrimination complaints against two lenders in conjunction with the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI).
Duffy said she began the process of refinancing the mortgage on her home in a historically Black neighborhood last year because of the hot sales market. She planned to use the money to buy her grandparents’ home nearby. Duffy anticipated that the value of her home had increased since she bought it for $100,000 in 2017, estimating it was probably worth around $185,000 in 2020.
But the first appraisal in March last year valued her home at $125,000. A second, a couple of months later, came back at $110,000. Duffy had purchased a market analysis for her home that concluded a possible list price of $187,000. But when she provided it to the lenders, she was told the appraised amounts would not change.
“I felt completely defeated,” she told Fox59.
Later in the year, after her credit had recovered, Duffy contacted a new lender and decided not to declare her race or gender during the application process. She communicated only via email. When the time came for the appraisal, she told the lender that she was going to be out of town and her brother would be at her house.
Duffy had a white friend pose as her brother when the appraisal was conducted on November 4 last year. She also took down pictures of herself, removed African American art and any books in her home that might indicate her race. Two days later, she received a copy of the appraisal valuing her home at $259,000.
“I get choked up even thinking about it now because I was so excited and so happy, and then I was so angry that I had to go through all of that just to be treated fairly,” Duffy told Fox 59. In the complaints, Duffy and the FHCCI allege that the two lenders have violated fair housing laws by allowing race to impact their appraisals and/lending practices. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will investigate to determine any violations of law.
Below is Fox 59’s report on Duffy’s ordeal, followed by a panel discussing what needs to be done to dismantle systemic racism in the appraisal and real estate industries.