A Black Indianapolis homeowner saw her home spike $250,000 in value following the removal of race-identifying objects. 

After asking a white male friend to sit in on her restaged home for an appraisal in 2020, Carlette Duffy said the new estimate on her house more than doubled in value from the first two refinancing attempts, WXIN News reported. She's since filed a discrimination complaint with the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (DUH) soon after. 

In her complaints, Duffy and Amy Nelson, the executive director of FHCCI, requested that the DUH investigate her last two appraisals. The FHCCI website lists their own investigation efforts into similar issues.  

According to WISH TV, Duffy’s initial plan was to use the sales from her remodeled home to purchase her grandparents house so her “daughter and granddaughter could live there.” Both homes are located in historically Black neighborhoods just outside of downtown. 

But Nelson had found that comparable sales were stripped from homes in those nearby areas, acknowledging that discrimination could be a clear factor, Raw Story reported.  

"Whether or not those comps were fairly selected is something that is the basis of the complaints that we have filed," Nelson said.  

Duffy said she decided to do her appraisal discrimination experiment after her first two home estimates came back nearly the same as what she originally paid for her house in 2017. The first valued her home at $125,000 while the second dropped nearly 10%, WISH TV reported.  

“When I challenged it, it came back that the appraiser said they’re not changing it,” Duffy said.

She said an article by the New York Times, which discusses the reality of discrimination Black homeowners face on appraisals, provided her the information she needed to move forward. The same article she saw discussed by Nelson with a community group. 

As a result, Duffy said she removed her race from the paperwork and “I took down every photo of my family from my house” in an effort to whitewash her home.  

“I took every piece of ethnic artwork out, so any African artwork, I took it out. I displayed my degrees, I removed certain books,” she said. 

Duffy said she was surprised to see the extremely high value of the new appraisal but was able to use that to buy her grandparents' home. 

“I get choked up even thinking about it now because I was so excited and so happy, and then I was so angry that I had to go through all of that just to be treated fairly,” she said.

In an article previously reported for Blavity, Lisa Rice, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, examined the history of fair housing in the U.S. She explained how under the former administration, the HUD imposed “overwhelming obstacles to proving discrimination” and urged President Biden to nullify those policies.   

Following Duffy’s incident, the Appraisal Institute, the nation’s largest association of appraisers, released a statement outlining their plan to address systemic racism and recent actions to advance housing policies, WXIN News reported. 

“The more people who can experience economic opportunity, the better off they will be and the better off all our communities will be. We want to help advance policies that enable economic opportunity knowing that care must be taken to avoid unintended consequences from policy changes,” the statement read. 

“We recognize that recruiting for greater diversity will make us stronger and more representative of the communities we work in and contribute to greater cultural awareness," it continues. 

Duffy said she hopes this experience will be used to help create fair housing practices for others.  

“I’m doing this for my daughter and I’m doing this for my granddaughter,” she said, “so that when they come against obstacles they will know that you can stand up, you can say that this is not right.”

In her complaints, Duffy and Amy Nelson, the executive director of FHCCI, requested that the DUH investigate her last two appraisals. The FHCCI website lists their own investigation efforts into similar issues.