Is Gender Discrimination in Lending Rampant in Chicago? (National Mortgage Professional Magazine)

By Phil Hall

A new study covering home loan applications in the Chicago metro region points to a disparity between the number of men and women that receive a mortgage. However, the study’s sponsor is not rushing to declare a lethal case of Windy City gender discrimination.

The Woodstock Institute’s new study found that female home loan applicants in the six counties that make up the Chicago metro region were 14.5 percent of women were less likely to receive a mortgage than male applicants, while 28.3 percent of joint mortgage applications where the woman’s name came first were rejected versus joint applications with the man’s name first.

On the whole, an average of 81.1 percent of Chicago-area women who applied for a mortgage received the loan, while the success rate for men was 83.4 percent. But lower-income women were more likely to receive mortgages than their male counterparts.

Nonetheless, the Woodstock Institute was not eager to declare the Chicago area to be the epicenter of gender discrimination in mortgage borrowing.

"All we're saying is, this is what the data show: Female applicants are less likely to get loans originated than male applicants," said Spencer Cowan, the report’s chief researcher, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. "We don't have basic underwriting criteria. We don't have the value of the property or any credit score range or debt-to-income ratio. We can't look at it and say cause and effect. Maybe (the report) will get the regulators' attention, maybe they will get access to better data."

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