Black Homeowner Files Complaint After Removal Of Black Identifiers Lead to $100,000 Appraisal Increase

An Indianapolis Black homeowner has filed a discrimination complaint after having her white friend sit in on a home appraisal that resulted in the value of her home increasing.

Carlette Duffy, who purchased her home in 2017 for $100,000, wanted to refinance it so that she could buy her grandparents’ old house to keep it in the family. However, her new initial appraisals presented an estimated value of $125,000 and $110,000 despite the place being fully renovated following a fire years ago.

Duffy was not satisfied with either of these estimates and decided to request a third appraisal. Duffy didn’t include her race or gender on the application for the third appraisal. Ahead of the visit, she also removed all photographs, artwork, books, and anything else in the home that would identify her as African American. She also asked her white friend to act as her brother and meet the appraiser at her home. The appraisal valued the house at $259,000.

“Only when I removed myself did I increase the value. So I’m being seen as the object of devaluation in my home, and that part hurts. That’s the part that’s hard to get over,” Duffy explained.

The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana filed complaints on Duffy’s behalf with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They say that the appraisers discriminated against Duffy due to her race and color. The complaints allege that the appraisers violated Title VIII of the Civil Rights act of 1968, which bans prejudice in real estate transactions based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. HUD is investigating to determine the exact violations.

Duffy also paid for a market analysis to determine a possible list price of her home, which was estimated at $187,000. However, this did not sway the appraisers.

Teresa Whitehead, CEO of Citywide, which was the first lender Duffy worked with in March and April 2020, attributes the sudden rise in appraisal value to a “very, very unusual year in the mortgage business.”

“We did see values go up considerably in a short period of time last year.”

Duffy is not buying it and is willing to work hard to see housing discrimination abolished.

“I want to see the system changed,” she said. “I don’t know if we can, but I’m up for the fight.”

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