A Washington couple accused of religious discrimination in the sale of a house on fashionable Reno Road NW yesterday agreed to sell the house to the Jewish couple who had filed a complaint with the D.C. Human Rights Commission.
The dispute between the sellers, the William G. Grahams, and the unsuccessful buyers, the David Carliners, was resolved after a third couple who held the sales contract on the house decided to purchase another home instead.
The settlement came in the midst of a hearing before the Human Rights Commission, whose investigators had found probable cause that the Carliners had been discriminated against in their efforts to purchase the house.
The commission began hearings last week after a D.C. Superior Court judge blocked sale of the house to the third couple the Gary E. Andersons until the commission could determine whether discrimination had occurred.
According to Carliner a Washington attorney, the Grahams' lawyer contacted him Sunday and asked if the Carliners would be willing to attempt to settle the case. The Carliners agreed.
Meanwhile according to Barbara Anderson she and her husband found another house to buy and subsequently asked the Grahams if they could be released from the purchase contract.
The Andersons had agreed to purchase the Grahams' house at 5240 Reno Rd. NW for $102,000 before the dispute began, Mrs. Anderson said. Their new home, in the same Northwest neighborhood and of similar size, will cost $110,00, she said.
"We strictly got caught in the middle," Mrs. Anderson said. "We needed a place to live" and could not husband, a foreign service officer, [Text Omitted from Sources] tween the Grahams and the Carliners. and their two children had just returned from South America and were living in a rented apartment in Fairfax when they purchased the Graham's house.
Saturday, in the middle of commission hearings, the lease on the apartment and their government living allowance ran out, Mrs. Anderson said.
So, on Monday, the Andersons signed a contract for a different house, contingent on being released from their agreement with the Grahams, Mrs. Anderson said.
The Grahams then agreed to allow the Carliners to assume the Andersons' contract on the house, according to officials from the Human Rights Commission.
"All we were interested in (was) getting the house," Carliner said yesterday. He said he interpreted the settlement offer as "vindication of our complaint."
Graham declined comment yesterday. His attorney, Frank Strickler, said the agreement came about because the Andersons voluntarily came forward and said they were willing to get out of the contract with the Grahams.
"You can read it any way you want, but there is no concession being made" by any of the parties, Joseph Clair, assistant general counsel for the human rights office said.
The Carliners had made several bids on the Reno Road house to a top offer of $100,000, according to court records.
The same day the Carliners made the $100,000 offer, the Andersons offered $102,000, but with a provision, that the Grahams assume settlement costs. That clause was eventually dropped from the contract and the Andersons were sold the house.
THe next day, the Carliners submitted a back-up offer (in case the Andersons were unable to arrange financing) of $103,000 through their real estate agent. According to testimony at the commission hearings, Mrs. Graham told the agent in a telephone conversation, "I'll let the house rot before I sell it to those Jews."
In an affidavit, Mrs. Graham claimed she said, "I would not sign a back-up offer with a Jewish couple who intends to sue us."