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Black Couple Suing After Appraised Home Value Rises By Almost $300k After White Friend Shows It

Black Couple Suing After Appraised Home Value Rises By Almost $300k After White Friend Shows It
Nathan Connolly/Facebook

A pair of Black college professors are suing a real estate appraiser and mortgage lender after their home value rose by nearly $300,000 after having a White friend show it instead of them.

Nathan Connolly and his wife Shani Mott, both professors at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, had their home appraised in advance of a refinance of their mortgage. The home was appraised at $472,000.

But when they had their White friend stand in for them, they got a huge surprise. Their home was valued at $750,000.

So Connolly and Mott are suing the home appraiser and mortgage lender for discriminatory violations of the Fair Housing Act.

The couple's lawsuit targets, Maryland-based 20/20 Valuations and its owner Shane Lanham, who conducted their first appraisal.

The couple were immediately suspicious of the home valuation they received from Lanham.

It was just $22,000 more than the $450,000 price for which they purchased the home five years ago, despite having put more than $30,000 of renovations into it and the real estate market having skyrocketed to astonishing levels since 2020.

The couple's lender then denied their mortgage application based on Lanham's skewed assessment.

Court documents detailed the home was full of family photos, books by Black authors and other Black cultural signifiers like a poster for the film Black Panther.

In addition to having a White colleague of Connolly's lead the second appraisal, the couple went to the effort to "whitewash" their home, removing and replacing Black-authored books, borrowing family photos from White friends and purchasing artwork depicting White people from IKEA.

It worked like a $300,000 charm.

Connolly is a lecturer on Literature and African studies at Johns Hopkins and an expert on the history of housing discrimination against Black people.

According to court documents, he and Mott wrote a detailed letter to objecting to Lanham's appraisal, but the mortgage lender simply "stopped responding to Plaintiff's phone calls."

The couple believe Lanham targeted them because their community, the town of Homeland north of Baltimore, is 78% White.

Speaking to The New York Times, Connolly called the experience a "gut punch."

"We were clearly aware of appraisal discrimination. But 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."

On Twitter, many were outraged by what Connolly and Mott experienced.

Housing discrimination against BIPOC is still shockingly common.

Connolly and Mott's lawsuit comes on the heels of a similar suit filed by a Black couple in California, Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate-Austin.

After "whitewashing" their home in a similar manner to Connolly and Mott, Austin and Tate-Austin's home value shot up from $995,000 to $1.48 million.