Florida couple says home was appraised 40 percent higher after removing Black relatives’ photos

Firstcoast News

A mixed-race couple in Florida whose home in Jacksonville had initially been valued by an appraiser at $330,000 back in June said the same residence was valued at more than 40 percent higher at a second appraisal after they removed images of their Black family members.

Abena Horton, who is Black, and her husband, Alex, who is white, opened up about the experience in an interview with The New York Times this week, several months after Horton’s Facebook post detailing the episode went viral.

Horton told that paper that she and her husband initially expected the home to be valued at roughly $450,000 when they had met with the appraiser in June. According to the Times, a number of the homes in the area can sell for at least $350,000 and up to $550,000. 

But at their first appraisal, Horton said her home, which has four bedrooms and bathrooms, was valued at $330,000. The value, Horton said in her Facebook post, was “far lower than neighboring home sales with fewer bathrooms, fewer bedrooms, significantly lower square footage and half the land.”

So, Horton said she and her husband ordered a second appraisal. Only this time, she said they removed all of their pictures of Black relatives as well as pictures of “African American greats” she said they displayed to inspire their son.

She said they also took down works from authors such as Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison and instead put up paintings of her husband and his family.

Then, she said she took her son for “a convenient shopping trip during the appraisal, leaving my white male husband to show the appraiser around, alone.”

The home, Horton said, was valued at $465,000.

In her interview with the Times, Horton said her “heart kind of broke” after the June incident. 

 “I know what the issue was. And I knew what we needed to do to fix it, because in the Black community, it’s just common knowledge that you take your pictures down when you’re selling the house. But I didn’t think I had to worry about that with an appraisal,” she continued.

Horton told the Times she has reported the incident to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Hill has reached out to the agency for comment. 

The complaint is one of a number of similar reports the agency told the Times it receives annually.

Although neighborhood in which Horton and her resides is predominantly white, according to The Times, a 2018 report by the Brookings Institute also found a devaluation problem in majority-Black neighborhoods.

Among its findings, the report said it found that “owner-occupied homes in black neighborhoods are undervalued by $48,000 per home on average, amounting to $156 billion in cumulative losses.” 

It stated that it also found 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.”

Tags Florida house appraisal Housing race relations
See all Hill.TV See all Video