Report Reveals Racial Disparities in Mortgage Lending, Posted in Financial News, Mortgage Rates, Refinance


Funds used for refinancing home mortgages were less available in the minority sections of major U.S. cities than in predominantly white areas after the recent housing crash, according to a new study released on Thursday. The study, compiled by a coalition of nonprofit groups across the country, revealed that refinancing in minority areas has decreased since the recession.

Mortgage Refinancing Drops 17 Percent in Minority Areas

The report, titled “Paying More for the American Dream V,” took a look at seven metropolitan areas–Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York City and Rochester, N.Y.–to explore conventional mortgage refinancing.

The study, compiled by groups like California Reinvestment, the Woodstock Institute in Chicago and the Ohio Fair Lending Coalition, revealed the following:

  • Refinancing in minority areas decreased by an average of 17 percent in 2009 compared with the year prior.
  • Refinancing in white areas jumped by 129 percent.
  • Lenders “were more than twice as likely” to deny applications for refinancing by borrowers living in minority communities than in majority white neighborhoods.

The report also found that minority borrowers were more likely to obtain a high-risk subprime mortgage loan than white borrowers, even if their credit was good.

Lenders Urged to Invest More in Low-Income Communities

Because of the inconsistency the study’s authors found in lending practices, they are concerned that there are ongoing racial disparities in mortgage lending as a whole.

Adam Rust, Director of Research at the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina, noted in statement “Lenders are loosening up credit in predominantly white neighborhoods, while continuing to deprive communities of color of vital refinancing needed to aid in their economic recovery.”

To aid the issue, the authors are urging lenders to make changes, including:

  • Investing more in low-income communities
  • Improving disclosure requirements to protect unwary borrowers

They noted that it is subprime loans that contributed largely to the housing market crash because not only were they given to those with poor credit, but income was never checked to confirm that borrowers could repay the balance.

With foreclosures expected to flow heavily in the months to come and home sales still struggling, the authors believe that expanding fair lending opportunities to all who qualify could help repair the housing industry. It’s for this reason they think changes to lending practices should be a top priority for financial institutions.

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