When Seattle resident Keisha Credit inherited her grandfather’s Central District home in 2020, she immediately began receiving correspondence — from real estate investors, local neighbors, and even scammers — who all wanted to purchase the property below its current value.
“When I inherited my home from my grandfather, literally the day after he passed away, there were letters in the mail asking me to buy my house,” Credit said in a now-viral TikTok video. “I cannot tell you how many predatory letters I’ve got to buy my home below market value.”
Credit says she receives two to three letters per week with purchase offers. Yet all of these offers are often averaging $800,000 — well below the current value of the home. Homes in the Central District are valued on the low-end $900,000 to the highest — $4 million. Credit knows that her home — that boasts six bedrooms and four bathrooms — is valued at more than current offers. On Redfin, homes with these specs are currently selling for at least $1.5 million dollars.
“That’s good money, but absolutely not,” Credit said. “It’s disrespectful and assumes I don’t know the value of my home.”
Gentrification Changes The Culture of Central District
In 1968, Credit’s grandfather Daniel Duncan purchased his home in Seattle’s Central District. As a trained architect and plumber, Duncan renovated the home in 1976, expanding the home’s frame to include six bedrooms and four bathrooms. At the time, it was a redlined community — a discriminatory practice of refusing to extends loans in minority communities — to push specific groups of people into certain areas. At the time, the community was 73 percent Black, with other 19 percent composed of Jewish, Asian and Latino residents.
Today, Central District is no longer predominately Black. According to The Seattle Times, it is 14 Percent Black, 62 percent white and 24 percent other. These numbers also point to gentrification.
The Urban Displacement Project defines gentrification as a neighborhood shifting from being a disinvested neighborhood to real estate investments and residents of higher socio-economic backgrounds, changing the demographic of an area.
Central District is in the midst of redevelopment — new buildings are being erected and a new generation of dwellers are seeking “a walkable neighborhood near local activities,” according to The Seattle Times. In addition, access to public transportation and commute times is also a draw to the area.
Potential Buyers Use Varied Tactics
Credit also adds that gentrification is more than just purchasing property. It also includes an element of bullying people out of spaces that they own to make room for others.
In addition to offers from potential buyers, Credit also receives correspondence from agencies and reverse mortgage companies who want to offer their help. Credit and other long-time Black residents are feeling the push to leave as everyone from new neighbors to real estate scam artists are looking for properties in the Central District.
“When I first became owner of this home, I got a couple of letters talking about taxes being behind and … they were all talking about reverse mortgages, and scammy things like, ‘call us for help.’ We were not behind on our taxes,” she said. “Handling the affairs after someone has passed required so much time and paperwork. There’s accounts you don’t know about, policies, taxes, all this stuff. So, to get a letter saying I am behind on my house and I may lose it? Yeah, I was taking that seriously.”
While homeowners receiving purchase offers from financial institutions is not new, the number of undervalued offers presented to Black families is too prevalent to be ignored.
“My home was solicited not just by ‘big corps’ and ‘real estate companies’ looking to lowball by mailers. This [handwritten letter] was from a neighbor in my community … the day after my grandfather’s body was carried across his threshold for the last time,” Credit told Buzzfeed.
“They have certain interests for this community, and they wanted it known,” she said. “Anyone who would offer condolences and then ask to buy your home in the same letter has clear intentions.”
As Seattle Times columnist Gene Balk noted, “While many of our city neighborhoods have gentrified, nowhere more than in the CD is there such a pronounced racial component to that transformation.”