Nathan Connolly and Shani Mott filed a lawsuit Monday against 20/20 Valuations LLC, its owner Shane Lanham, and loanDepot.com, alleging that defendants 20/20 Valuations LLC and its owner “played their home in an appraisal.” discriminated against the plaintiff by underestimating it.” Despite the plaintiffs’ race and the location of their homes adjoining a black census block, within Homeland, a wealthy, predominantly white neighborhood,” loanDepot.com discriminated against them by relying on their valuation in denying their refinancing loans.
According to the complaint, Connolly and Mott, black professors at Johns Hopkins University, applied to LoanDepot.com to refinance a mortgage on a four-bedroom home in Baltimore’s predominantly white homeland, Maryland. .
According to the lawsuit, Lanham’s firm, 20/20 Valuations, assessed loanDepot and returned a valuation that was more than $75,000 less than the conservative valuation loanDepot had given the couple. According to the complaint, LoanDepot refused to refinance the couple’s mortgage on the grounds of a low valuation.
“Plaintiffs were shocked by the valuation and realized that the low valuation was due to racism. written in the complaint.
Gabriel Diaz, the couple’s attorney, told CNN that the lawsuit represents his client’s perspective.
According to the lawsuit, Connolly and Mott later reapplied to another lender and “whitewashed” the home. It included getting The lawsuit alleges that this valuation set her back at $750,000, which is more than $250,000 more than his $472,000 valuation on 20/20 Valuations.
According to the lawsuit, Lanham allegedly used a valuation method that compared the couple’s home to properties in the predominantly black local area rather than the rest of the mainland.
“Defendant Lanham’s decision to geographically limit the areas in which it chose equal sales was due to the fact that Dr. Connolly and Dr. Mott, because of their race, had homes in attractive, predominantly white areas. It was a reflection of his belief that he did not belong to the Rand: Black homeowners adjacent to predominantly black neighborhoods were more likely than those in whiter neighborhoods, which he considered the “center” of Homeland. is of little value,” the lawsuit asserts.
CNN reached out to Lanham for comment.
Jonathan Fine, vice president of public affairs at Loan Depot, told CNN that the company is “strongly” opposed to housing discrimination.
“While valuations are conducted independently by outside professional valuation firms, all participants in the housing finance process must work to find ways to contribute to eradicating stigma,” Fine said. says.
The couple said Lanham’s “dramatically low ratings reflected his belief that black families did not truly belong to the homeland and could not be owners of higher value homes.” claims that
“Lanham violated professional standards to devalue the plaintiff’s home because of these racist beliefs. Regardless, it relied on Lanham’s assessment and stopped responding or replying when plaintiffs challenged that assessment,” the lawsuit said. state.
According to the complaint, the couple seek damages and relief from Lanham, 20/20 Valuations LLC, and loanDepot for violations of the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and the Maryland Fair Housing Act. I’m here.
The couple’s lawsuit is the latest example of the hardships and discrimination they say some black homeowners face.
Last year, a black California couple filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco, claiming racism was the reason for the low valuation of their home.
Home appraisals are within the fair housing and fair lending laws. More than 50 years after the Fair Housing Act was passed, the racial divide among homeowners is wider than ever. For example, according to the Census Bureau, in 2021 black homeownership was 44%, while white homeownership will reach 74%.
“The purpose of litigation is to obtain a measure of justice. [Connolly and Mott] What they’ve been through in the form of financial compensation, but I think there’s a related education issue,” Diaz told CNN.
“I think this is an issue that is not properly understood and not widely understood. Hopefully, this incident will give people understanding and awareness and change their anger so that things like this don’t happen in the future.” I hope you do,” Diaz said.
Anna Bahney of CNN Business contributed to this report.