Houston-area family files lawsuit after being denied apartment
According to the lawsuit, the realtor, Josie Lin, told the family that she reserved authority over who could buy property at the Grand West Condominiums.
The Ra-Amari family had found the perfect condominium building — newly developed in a predominantly-Asian area west of Houston, Texas flourishing with development — but was repeatedly denied the option to purchase units, which they allege in a federal lawsuit was because of their race.
As reported by the Houston Chronicle, James Ra-Amari, his wife Misty Ra-Amari and Misty’s sister, Rosemary Afful, who are Black, claim in a lawsuit filed Friday that a real estate agent refused to sell units to the three property investors, telling them “we won’t be able to get along with each other well,” as is heard in an audio recording posted on social media.
According to the lawsuit, the realtor, Josie Lin, told the family that she reserved authority over who could buy property at the Grand West Condominiums in Katy, Texas and was “personal friends” with all of the owners.
“It doesn’t have me feeling different about the area as regards to the potential it has to grow,” James told the outlet. “But it does have me feeling different about transferring my resources to a place that does not seem to want us.”
The lawsuit names two real estate brokerages, RE/MAX and EXP Realty, as well as Lin, as defendants. Reached for comment, RE/MAX told the Chronicle that Lin had not worked for the company since December 2021, months before the alleged incident.
Per the report, Lin was surprised to learn of the lawsuit when contacted by the Chronicle, but did not respond to emailed copies of the filing. EXP Realty did not immediately respond to the outlet’s request.
James, Misty and Rosemary became interested in buying three units at the Grand West after James saw an open house flyer for the building while eating lunch at his usual spot: Jia Kitchen in the Katy Asian Town area, a short drive from where he and Misty live with their four children, per the outlet.
The filing documents include a flyer billing the Grand West as an “option for Chinese and Asian communities in Houston” seeking “a safe and simple Asian life.”
James, an investor in other Houston-area properties, along with Misty and Rosemary wanted to purchase one unit to occupy and two to rent. The group was going to pay the asking price in cash, but allege in the lawsuit that they were told on Aug. 20 by Lin: “I do not negotiate.”
Per the report, the family alleges that despite never declaring any intent to use a loan to purchase the units, Lin told them that “Fannie Mae lending [a government-sponsored mortgage finance company] would not be approved…”
According to the lawsuit, Lin additionally reasoned that she only wanted to sell units to owners aged 55 and older — but when the trio asked if that was the reason for the denials, Lin responded, “No, I’m not going to sell to you because I have a gut feeling that I would not get along with you.”
James told the Chronicle he developed a “dark feeling” during the exchange, and no longer eats at Jia Kitchen, but intends to challenge the denial as fiercely as possible with Misty and Rosemary to set and example for he and Misty’s children.
“They’re looking at their mother and father and thinking, ‘What’re you going to do about it?’” James said. “No matter how uncomfortable we feel, we aren’t going to go down without a fight.”
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