The Urban Institute report issued today says that "not all Americans enjoy equal access to the benefits of homeownership, in part because of unequal access to capital." It also says that "minorities are less likely than whites to obtain mortgage financing and, if successful in obtaining a mortgage, tend to receive less generous loan amounts and terms."
The Urban Institute study - titled What We Know About Mortgage Lending Discrimination in America - has three major findings:
- Discrimination can begin at the early stages of the mortgage lending process, including pre-application inquiries by would-be borrowers. The Urban Institute findings were based in part on "paired testing" that was carried out by people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds in a sample of cities. Each group of testers - including one white and one or more minorities - told lenders they had similar credit histories, incomes and financial histories, and had the same type of mortgage needs. The testing found that overall, minorities were less likely to receive information about loan products, received less time and information from loan officers, and were quoted higher interest rates in most of the cities where tests were conducted.
- At later stages of the process, racial disparities in loan denial rates cannot be "explained away" by differences in creditworthiness or by technical factors affecting the analyses of denial rates.
- Good intentions on the part of lenders are not enough. Action must be taken to ensure minorities do not face lending discrimination.