Is My House “Race Free” Enough to Sell?

Lafe Tolliver

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

Don’t you just love those stories about when Black people get ready to sell their homes, they must go through “changes” to make sure that they get a fair appraisal from a white appraiser.

It is said that over 85 percent of appraisers are white and they are the front line decision makers that banks and lenders relied upon to make the critical decision regarding home valuations.

Without having to deal with the curse of imbedded racism with the lending industry when it comes to fairness for the Black homeowner wishing to either buy or sell a home, you now must deal with arbitrary and capricious values of white appraisers giving you a thumbs up or down on your property.

When you consider that homeownership is a foundational platform by which wealth is both accumulated and passed on to the next generation, getting a fair and unbiased appraisal is crucial to wealth building.

And do you know what triggers these woefully biased appraisals of Black homes? Besides the obvious “zip code” of where you live, the recorded crime statistics, the quality of the school system and shopping amenities, it comes down to through whose eyes is your property been sized up.

Photographs of the exterior of the house are important regarding curb appeal, lot size and landscaping but what triggers negative evaluations also includes what is being displayed inside the house.

Of course, to maximize the value of your house, you can arrange for a “friendly” white neighbor to show the house to the appraiser and if the question is asked, “where are the owners,” the house sitter simply states they were called away for an emergency dental visit.

For Black people, single or married or in an interracial marriage, what will be the telltale signs that Black people live in the house?

That is critically important because a house being occupied by Black owners can still be equated to being of lesser value than a comparable white owned home.

For that “exorcism” exercise to increase the value of your home for a sale, allow me to ask you a series of “reminders” and, if you pass them, you are “race ready” to sell your house. But, if you fail, you need to scrub down your house so that it is not deemed, “non-desirable” to a possible white buyer.

Scrub down means, you strip the interior of any mention or marking of any evidence that shows that a DeMarcus or a Val’druanydia lives there. Here are those reminders.

The following public service reminders, if not scrupulously adhered to, could costs you tens of thousands of dollars at the home closing because some buyers do not want to think they are buying a house that Black folks once lived in.

Reminder One: In the front yard, remove all BLACK LIVES MATTER! signs.

Reminder Two: If you parked your car in the garage, remove all emblems or stickers that speak to a Black college or a Black sorority or fraternity.

Reminder Three: In the kitchen when they check into the cupboards, remove all bags of black-eyed peas and cans of Okra and mustard greens.

Reminder Four:  In the snack corner on the kitchen counter, make sure you remove all bags of pork rinds and moon pies.

Reminder Five: In the living room, remove all BET television guides and do not have any radio playing Scott High School Jazz station, WXTS/88.3. A dead giveaway! And do not forget…get rid of those Jazz CD’s!

Reminder Six: Remove all family photos. Yes, ALL family photos.

Reminder Seven: Remove all kente cloth coverings on any furniture.

Reminder Eight: In the closets, remove any Dashikis and Kangol caps!

Reminder Nine: If you have a bookshelf, remove any books that talk about soul food recipes, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Black Power or Toni Morrison. Another dead giveaway!

Reminder Ten: In any of the kid’s room, remove all Black dolls.

Reminder Eleven: In the bathrooms, get rid of any hair pomades, Jeri-Curl products, hot combs, Afro picks, cocoa butter lotion and weaves.

Reminder Twelve: Use a forest air freshener about five minutes before the appraiser arrives. If they smell fried chicken wings or collard greens with fat back, you have just lost $10,000 in resale value!

And if, heaven forbid, you have the smell of chitlins and hot sauce in the house, the sale is irretrievably doomed! A still lingering odor of a steamy plate of chitlins has crashed many anticipated house sales.

Note: According to the March 2020 issue of The Journal of Advanced Bio-Metrics, you need to allow 92 hours to air out a house after eating a meal of chitlins before you schedule an open house.

So there. I did my level best to help you achieve the American Dream of selling your house at the maximum profit possible. The rest is up to you. You can follow my reminders of “scrubbing” down your house or be left wondering why you received an appraisal that is fifty thousand dollars less than a comparable house in your neighborhood that is being sold by a white family (even if they also may eat hog maws!).

You will have only yourself to blame!


Contact Lafe Tolliver at