A Black woman claims a white homeowner tried to pull out of a sale because of her race.

Perched on a hill with a view of the Atlantic Ocean, the condo in Virginia Beach was just what Dr. Raven Baxter wanted. It had a marble fireplace, a private foyer and details like crown molding and wainscoting in its three bedrooms and three bathrooms.

At $749,000, it was within her budget, too. She offered the asking price, which was accepted, and sent over a down payment. And then when she was in escrow earlier this month, her broker called her late at night on May 17, a Friday, with some bad news.

The seller wanted to pull out of the deal.

Why? “You could hear the fear and disbelief in his voice,” Dr. Baxter said, recalling what her broker told her next. “He said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this, but she doesn’t want to sell the home to you, and it’s because you’re Black.’”

The seller, Jane Walker, 84, is white.

Ms. Walker did not respond to requests for comment. Bill Loftis, Dr. Baxter’s broker, said, “We have no comment on this as we can’t do anything to jeopardize our clients [sic] transaction.”

The situation spilled out into the open a few hours later, when Dr. Baxter, 30, a molecular biologist and science communicator who runs the website Dr. Raven the Science Maven, shared what happened in a post on X. Her public airing to 163,000 followers and others has drawn attention to bias that continues to plague the housing industry, and the laws that are supposed to prohibit discrimination, even as Dr. Baxter took steps to continue to ultimately buy the condo.

Two federal laws — the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the much older Civil Rights Act of 1866 — make it illegal for both home sellers and their real estate agents to discriminate during a home sale. But more than 50 years after redlining was outlawed, racial discrimination remains an issue, housing advocates say. A multiyear undercover investigation by the National Fair Housing Alliance, a Washington-based nonprofit coalition of housing organizations, found that 87 percent of real estate agents participated in racial steering, opting to show their clients homes only in neighborhoods where most of the neighbors were of their same race. Agents also refused to work with Black buyers and showed Black and Latino buyers fewer homes than white buyers.

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