FHCCI ANNOUNCES HUD COMPLAINTS ALLEGING DISCRIMINATION
IN HOME APPRAISALS
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – (May 4, 2021) Today, the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) and Carlette Duffy announce the filing of fair housing complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) alleging housing discrimination due to race and color in the appraisal and lending process.
In 2020, Carlette Duffy, an African American resident of Indianapolis, began the process of refinancing her then-current mortgage. With decreasing interest rates and escalating home sales prices throughout Indianapolis, Ms. Duffy anticipated that her home’s value had increased since her purchase three years prior. At the time, she estimated her home’s value at $185,000.
In March and April 2020, Ms. Duffy worked with CityWide Mortgage and the appraiser Jeffrey Pierce of Pierce Appraisal Inc. To her surprise, they only valued her home at $125,000. The lender encouraged her to provide comps to challenge this low appraisal value of her home to determine if there had been mistakes made in the appraisal. Ms. Duffy purchased a market analysis for her home which concluded a possible list price of $187,000. She provided the analysis to the lender. The lender stated they had reviewed the documentation she had provided and the appraised amount would not change.
Between May and July 2020, Ms. Duffy interacted with her then-lender Freedom Mortgage about refinancing. She was assigned the appraiser Tim Boston of Appraisal Network. An appraisal was conducted which valued her home at $110,000. This amount was very near her purchase price of
$100,000 three years prior, despite a hot sales market. Again, Ms. Duffy challenged this appraisal and provided her market analysis. Again, she was told that no changes would be made. Ms. Duffy explained, “I felt completely defeated.”
“At the time Ms. Duffy was attempting to refinance, home values throughout Indianapolis were rising dramatically. There were multiple offers being made on home listings,” stated Amy Nelson, Executive Director of the FHCCI. “Ms. Duffy had a newly renovated home. She was a Black female. She lived in a historically African American neighborhood. She questioned if her race or color or that of her neighborhood was impacting how her home was being valued and the comps being used. Ms. Duffy did not give up. Instead, she did what fair housing organizations across the country have been doing to root out fair housing violations – she conducted a fair housing test.”
After her credit had recovered from the previous refinancing attempts, in October and November 2020, Ms. Duffy reached out to a new lender. This time, she did not declare her race or gender as part of the application process like she had with the previous lenders. When she was assigned an appraiser, she kept the interaction to email with no phone interaction. She took down the photos of herself and her family and removed her African American art and any books which might identify her race. She told the appraiser that she was going to be out of town and that her brother would meet the appraiser. She then had a White friend pose as her brother and meet the appraiser while she stayed away from her home.
On November 4, 2020, an appraisal was conducted. About two days later, she received a copy of her appraisal which valued her home at $259,000. Upon seeing that amount, Ms. Duffy first screamed with joy. But then the hurt set in of how she had had to erase herself from her home in order to get a value that was fair and accurate. Ms. Duffy reported her experiences to the FHCCI who opened an investigation.
“In the past year, we have heard stories across our country of African Americans questioning the appraisal process and the values assigned to their homes,” stated Noe Rojas, Director of Systemic Investigations at the FHCCI. “A recent study supports this questioning in finding that in the average U.S. metropolitan area, homes in neighborhoods where the share of the population is 50 percent Black, are valued at roughly half the price as homes in neighborhoods with no Black residents. This shows how systemic racism continues to haunt neighborhoods of color.”
Ms. Duffy and the FHCCI allege in the HUD complaints that the Respondents have violated fair housing laws by allowing race and color to impact their appraisals and/or lending practices. As part of these filings, HUD will conduct an investigation to determine any violations of law.
The FHCCI needs your help.
? If you live in Indianapolis and feel you may have been discriminated against in a recent home
appraisal, please contact our office to complete an interview. Contact the FHCCI at email@example.com
or 317-644-0673 x1004.
? To learn more about how systemic racism is still impacting our neighborhoods, view and share the
FHCCI videos on History of Redlining, History of Real Estate Sales Discrimination in Indianapolis,
or Reverse Redlining 101.
To learn more about this filing, visit our News Page. To learn more about how discrimination may impact
home appraisals, go to the FHCCI Appraisals Education Page.
The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) is a private, non-profit fair housing organization
founded in 2011 and based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Its mission is to ensure equal housing opportunities
by eliminating housing discrimination through advocacy, enforcement, education, and outreach. For more
information, visit: www.fhcci.org
The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported in part by funding under a grant with the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated
to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and
interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the