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Fair Housing: Lenders Tend to Deny Asian Americans’ Mortgages

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Lenders Tend to Deny Asian

Fair Housing: Lenders Tend to Deny Asian Americans’ Mortgages

Urban Institute report: The mortgage-denial rate for Asian Americans is 8.7% compared to 6.7% for whites, despite the former’s generally better credit scores and income.

WASHINGTON – Asian American mortgage applicants face higher mortgage denial rates than white mortgage applicants, despite having higher credit scores and incomes, according to a new Urban Institute (UI) report.

The denial rate for Asian American mortgage applicants is 8.7% compared to 6.7% for white applicants, and the higher denial rate is generally found across income levels.

According to the UI report, this happens despite the fact that Asian American mortgage applicants tend to have higher credit scores and incomes than their white counterparts. In 2020, the median credit score for Asian American mortgage applicants was 761; for white applicants, it was 748. In 2019, Asian American applicants’ median income was $107,000 compared to $82,000 for white applicants.

Why are Asian American mortgage applicants being denied at higher rates? Researchers suggest that, in 2019, about 37% of purchase loan applications from Asian borrowers were denied due to a high debt-to-income ratio (DTI) compared to a 28.7% denial rate for white applicants.

However, even among Asian American applicants with DTI ratios below 30%, nearly 12% with annual incomes below $50,000 were still denied mortgages compared to 9.2% of white applicants in that same income bracket. That gap was found even for those earning more than $150,000 per year.

“This analysis highlights an important yet often overlooked barrier Asian applicants face in the housing market,” write researchers Linna Zhu, Jun Zhu, and Laurie Goodman with the Urban Institute. “More research is needed to understand why Asian homebuyers are denied mortgages more frequently than white borrowers, despite having, on average, higher credit scores and higher incomes. Failing to address this denial gap would keep more potential Asian homebuyers out of homeownership and widen the homeownership gap between Asian and white households.”

Source: “Asian Americans Face Systemic Higher Mortgage Denial Rates Despite Having Stronger Credit Profiles,” Urban Institute (Nov. 1, 2021)

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