Racial Bias in Mortgage Biz? New Data Says No, Researchers Find

By Randall Bloomquist In the mortgage public-policy cosmos, studies alleging racial bias in lending are like comets. They blaze across the industry skyline on a regular basis, drawing attention from the media and outrage from fair housing activists. The latest flare came from a report alleging Black applicants are nearly twice as likely to be denied a conventional mortgage as compared to White applicants with similar financial profiles. The study, which claims to advance the case for widespread lending discrimination through the analysis of newly available data about loan applicants, was generated by the non-profit investigative website The Mark-Up in partnership with the Associated Press. But according to some industry analysts, The Mark-Up’s j’accuse! moment comes up short. Those data crunchers say the…

Investigation Finds Freddie and Fannie Algorithm Negatively Impacts Borrowers of Color

An investigation by The Markup found that lenders in 2019 were more likely to reject loan requests from people of color than white people, even if their finances looked much the same. The Markup examined more than 2 million conventional mortgage applications using statistical analysis that held 17 factors steady to account for explanations traditionally used to explain racial disparities in lending: the borrower’s credit history, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio and loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. According to The Markup, the bias was evident in the credit scoring algorithm “Classic FICO,” which was developed in the 1990s. Fannie and Freddie require lenders to use Classic FICO to determine whether an applicant meets their minimum threshold. Classic FICO focuses on traditional credit but does…