Women bringing home the bacon, but not the home loan

by Kelli Rogers30 May 2013
Women are increasingly becoming family breadwinners, but does that mean they'll be the ones signing the mortgage?
 
New research from the Pew Research Center has found a record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family. But this hasn't translated into more women being approaved for mortgage loans.
 
A study by Chicago-based research nonprofit The Woodstock Institute found that women who applied for a mortgage loan were 24% less likely to get one than their male counterparts. When women went to refinance an existing mortgage, lenders were 39% less likely to approve them than they were to approve men making the same request.
 
“We would expect to see no significant difference in the origination rates for male-headed joint applications and female-headed joint applications, since the backgrounds of both borrowers on joint applications are considered by mortgage lenders,” said Spencer Cowan, vice president of research at Woodstock Institute.
 
The study pulled from 2010 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act fair lending data in the Chicago area, but noted that the HMDA available did not contain key categories of information such as credit scores, overall debt-to-income ratio or appraised values. Still, Cowan noted it was unlikely that there wasn’t some element of discrimination, even if subconscious. 
 
The disparities surprised Lisa Hoang, vice president of iApproveLending in Irvine, Calif. 
 
“I am a woman executive, so naturally I’m sensitive to issues of women as well as minorities, but I definitely haven’t seen this as a problem,” Hoang said. “Now when we approve loans, regulations dictate a matrix; whoever fits that matrix will get their loan approved, regardless of gender or race.”

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