James and Misty Ra-Amari, an African American couple who are real estate investors from Houston, Texas have filed a federal discrimination lawsuit claiming that a local real estate agent allegedly rejected their intention to buy condos last August. The couple says that the realtor turned them away as well as Misty’s sister, Rosemary Afful, because they were Black.
They were looking to invest in 3 condos at Grand West Condos, a new development in Katy, Texas. However, the realtor Josie Lin allegedly denied them access.
“We went inside, she was reluctant to show us, she asked irrelevant questions,” James told KHOU. “She told us quote, ‘My gut feeling tells me not to sell to you because we wouldn’t get along with you.’”
The Ra-Amaris and Afful are suing Josie Lin, as well as Grand West Condominiums, Grand West Residential Condominium Association, Inc., United Property Management, RE/MAX and EXP Realty, and Lin’s company, UMRE, alleging that their civil rights were violated.
“We’re hoping in this situation everyone will learn, discrimination is just not acceptable,” James said.
In the lawsuit, which has been filed in the US District Court, the plaintiffs are claiming that the marketing for the new complex violates the Fair Housing Act. According to the lawsuit, the properties were advertised as “a new option for a safe and simple Asian life” also adding that, “Katy Asian town is within walking distance.”
The undated marketing material promoting the open house at the new development indicated Lin as a RE/MAX United agent. But RE/MAX denied connection to Lin at the time of the incident, saying that Lin left the agency in December 2021 and that “any use by Ms. Lin of any RE/MAX-branded materials after her departure from RE/MAX is impermissible and unauthorized.”
The lawsuit is reportedly seeking $2 million in economic damages and additional compensatory, special, and punitive damages for extreme mental anguish and emotional distress.
Meanwhile, the couple said nothing has changed in their plan and they are still keen to purchase units at Grand West Condos.
“We’re still interested in purchasing in that community because there’s growth there,” James told CNN. “I’m not going to allow anyone to distract my wife and me from accomplishing the goals that we’ve set in place.”