A Black Seattle family received an appraisal that was significantly higher…only after their white neighbor stepped in.
King 5 reports the Clark family were looking to expand their three-bedroom home and were interesting in a home appraisal, as it would be helpful when considering financing options for the renovations.
“We put in a new kitchen, new bathroom, an extra bathroom. And we have plans to expand the second floor,” said Clark, according to King 5.
Homes In The Area Were Selling For Over $1M
The Clarks were expecting the value of their home to be higher than when they purchased.
Nearby homes were selling for over a $1 million.
“The homes are selling for over a million dollars here,” Clark told 5 King. “We bought this house kind of under — it was under duress.”
Valuation lowered: To their surprise, the appraiser sent by their mortgage company placed a lower value on their home.
The valuation dropped to $670,000.
“[The appraisal] came in very low, which was really unexpected. [My agent] asked me, ‘How was the appraisal?’ I said, ‘It came in really low.’ ‘Oh, because it was $800,000-$900,000?’ and I’m like, ‘No, no, it was in the sixes,’” Clark explained, according to King 5.
Clarks had to whitewash home: The Clarks decided to try again. This time, they wanted to see if their race played a factor. So, they asked their white neighbor, Marta Eull, to present himself as the homebuyer.
“The objective was to see if you had a person that was not someone of color in the house…if that would change the amount that he got for the appraisal to see if there was some kind of bias there,” said Eull, according to King 5.
The Clarks also took additional measures to wipe away proof that they lived in the home. This included taking down family photos and African art.
Valuation Of Home Soars With Second Appraisal
When it was time for the second appraisal, the value of the home had increased to $929,000. This was $259,000 more in comparison to the first.
“We’re talking a three-week period, and nothing else changed in the house outside of me,” Clark told 5 King.
“I was really happy that it came back and it was better for Joe, but I was mad that they had to go through that to get an appraisal that the rest of the neighborhood was at,” said Eull.
King 5 investigated further to gain clarity on why the appraisals presented different results.
The first appraiser didn’t consider renovations nor did they ask the Clarks about the home or neighborhood. In addition, the appraiser was only at the home for 30 minutes.
In comparison, the second appraisal took more time and they considered the fact that homes in the area were selling for over $1 million.
“Am I surprised by this case? Well, I’ve seen a lot of them. I’ve seen a lot around the country. And I can show systematically that they’re not an anomaly,” said Junia Howell, an urban sociologist and race scholar, according to King 5. “Homes in communities of color are worth 70 percent less, on average, when holding everything else constant as homes in white neighborhoods. It’s really insane.”