Aspiring Black homeowners still face more obstacles than other demographics in their pursuit of homeownership, a new report from the online loan marketplace LendingTree has found.
The research found that the denial rate for Black mortgage applicants is almost twice as high as the nation’s average in the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. LendingTree based its analysis on data from the 2020 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, finding that some 18% of Black borrowers have their applications denied when applying for a mortgage, compared to the 9% rejection rate for the overall population.
LendingTree Senior Economist Jacob Channel told CNBC that data shows that a problem does exist. However, he said there are solutions to this problem, meaning that “Black homebuyers shouldn’t lose faith that they’ll never be able to become homeowners.”
The problem varies across the nation. For instance in St. Louis, the rejection rate for Black mortgage applicants was 20.73% compared to the average of 7.3% for the overall population, representing a spread of 13.4%. Other problem cities include Boston and Jacksonville, Florida, which both had a spread of 13.34%.
The best areas for Black mortgage applicants appear to be San Francisco, Sacramento, California, and Seattle, where the spread was just 2.35%, 4.64% and 4.83%, respectively, LendingTree said.
The findings are backed up by data on homeownership. A recent national survey of racial and ethnic minorities found that just 45% of Black respondents own the home they live in, compared to 55% who live in a rented home. That’s lower than the national average of 65% who own their homes, according to the study that was carried out by NPR, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Blacks are less likely than Latinos, Asians and Native Americans to be homeowners, the findings showed.
LendingTree’s Channel said the discrepancy is due to “subconscious bias” and that it’s exacerbated by the fact that many people don’t realize that bias exists, and they don’t know how to prevent it. However, he said Blacks should not lose heart and remember that there are already millions who have been able to obtain loans and buy their own homes.
“The first thing is to just don’t let this completely discourage you,” Channel said.
As far as solutions go, Channel said that having a strong financial profile is the first step and will help to improve your chances of getting approval for a mortgage. By that, he means a strong credit score, stable income and few missed bill payments. There are also programs for borrowers with lower credit scores, he reminded, including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration and various state and federal-level programs.
Most important, Channel advised, is that applicants should remember that one rejection is not indicative of all lenders.
“Don’t give up hope because you have one or two denied applications,” he said. “There’s always options. There’s potentially other lenders out there who can work with you.”
For those who feel they have been a victim of discrimination, they can report it to their state’s attorney general of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.