A real estate appraiser in Maryland has been sued by a black couple alleging that they violated The Fair Housing Act by providing them with a low housing appraisal due to their race. The couple filed the lawsuit after getting a 2nd appraisal, which came in at $300,000 higher than the first one.
The black couple, who are Nathan Connolly and Shani Mott, filed suit against 20/20 Valuations LLC, its owner Shane Lanham, and loanDepot.com on Monday.
The lawsuit claimed the defendants 20/20 Valuations LLC and its owner “discriminated against Plaintiffs by dramatically undervaluing their home in an appraisal because of Plaintiffs’ race and their home’s location adjacent to a Black census block, notwithstanding that it is also located within Homeland, an affluent, mostly white neighborhood.” The lawsuit also stated that loanDepot.com discriminated against them by denying their refinance loan solely based on that appraisal.
“To be told in so many words that our presence and the life we’ve built in our home brings the property value down? It’s an absolute gut punch,” Nathan Connelly told The New York Times.
The couple bought the home for $450,000 in 2017 and stated that they also invested $30,000 worth of renovations to it. The initial appraisal came in at $472,000, therefore the re-financing loan, which assumed the house had a value of $550,000 was rejected.
Connelly and Mott then showed the house again for an appraisal, using a different company, however they had a white friend show the appraiser around the house and also replaced framed pictures to stage the house like a white family lived there. This appraisal came in at $750,000.
The lawsuit states that Lanham reportedly used an appraisal method where he compared the couple’s home to properties in a majority-Black local area, and not Homeland.
“Defendant Lanham’s decision to geographically limit the area from which he selected comparable sales reflected his belief that, because of their race, Dr. Connolly and Dr. Mott did not belong in Homeland, an attractive and predominantly white neighborhood, and that a home with Black homeowners located adjacent to a predominantly Black area is worth less than if it were in the whiter areas that he deemed ‘the heart’ of Homeland,” the lawsuit alleges.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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