Black Woman Makes Her House’s Value Go Up $100K By Removing African Artwork, Family Photos, And Inviting A White Friend During The Appraisal

 Carlette Duffy, a black woman from Indianapolis, was able to get her house appraised for over $100,000 more by hiding her identity. Duffy had a white man sitting in her home during the appraisal so that the company would think it was actually him who owned the house.

“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,” she told Fox 50 News.

Homeowner Carlette Duffy wanted to refinance her home in a historically black neighborhood just outside downtown Indianapolis

Image credits: CBS4 Indy

Duffy wanted to take advantage of the housing boom last year to refinance her home and buy her grandparents’ house nearby. But when she got her house appraised—twice—she couldn’t believe it was evaluated for pretty much the same amount of money as when she bought it in 2017.

She purchased the house for $100,000, and even though it was completely renovated after a fire, her valuations came back at $125,000 and $110,000, leaving her with very little equity.

“When I challenged it, it came back that the appraiser said they’re not changing it,” she said.

She was hoping to use the equity to purchase her grandparents’ home nearby

Image credits: CBS4 Indy

She purchased her house in 2017 for $100,000, and even though it was completely renovated after a fire, her first and second home valuations came back at $125,000 and $110,000

When Duffy heard Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) Executive Director Amy Nelson talk to a community group about racism in home appraisals, she read up on the issue and decided to find out if racism was the main reason for her low appraisals too.

So Duffy removed all evidence that she’s black from her home. She put away family photos and didn’t specify her race on the new appraisal forms. She even got a friend who’s a white man to sit in her house during the next appointment.

“I took down every photo of my family from my house,” Duffy said. “I took every piece of ethnic artwork out.”

This appraisal came back double the first two. The value of her house increased by over $100,000.

Duffy also noticed that the comps—or comparable homes—that the appraisal companies used to determine the value of her house changed with the third appraisal. The first two used houses in historically Black neighborhoods that were over a mile away. The third used houses nearby that were similar to hers.

The woman used the third appraisal to get a loan and bought her grandparents’ house. But she’s not stopping yet.

Duffy has filed complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with help from the FHCCI, alleging discrimination.

“I’m doing this for my daughter and I’m doing this for my granddaughter, so that when they come against obstacles they will know that you can stand up, you can say that this is not right,” Duffy said.

So she decided to take a different approach and try again for the third time

There are many people who have found themselves in similar situations. Like The New York Times pointed out, race and housing policy have long been intertwined in the United States. Black Americans consistently struggle more than their white counterparts to be approved for home loans, and the specter of redlining—a practice that denied mortgages to people of color in certain neighborhoods—continues to drive down home values in black neighborhoods.

Even in mixed-race and predominantly white neighborhoods, black homeowners say, their homes are consistently appraised for less than those of their neighbors, stymying their path toward building equity and further perpetuating income equality in the United States.

Home appraisers are bound by the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to not discriminate against people based on their race, religion, national origin, or gender. Appraisers can lose their license or even face prison time if they do.

Sadly, it worked

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