If you are a woman seeking a home loan, you are more likely to get that loan if you have a male co-applicant. Your odds improve even more if your application for a loan is “male-headed” and you are just the co-applicant, according to a new report released by the Woodstock Institute this month. “We would expect to see no significant difference in the origination rates for male-headed joint applications and female-headed joint applications,” said Spencer Cowan, vice president of research at the Woodstock Institute. In co-application scenarios, both borrowers are considered by mortgage lenders. The fact that female-headed joint home purchase mortgage applications in the study were 24 percent less likely to be originated is “troubling,” Cowan said, adding that “such large disparities raise…questions about potentially discriminatory underwriting”[1]. The gap grew even more significant when the loan applications concerned refinancing; then, female-headed applications were 39 percent less likely to be approved.

Analysts at Woodstock studied loan data in order to compile their results. They reviewed “about 257,000 purchase and refinance mortgages originated in 2010.” The applicants’ incomes ranged from $20,000 to $999,000, and they sought loans in amounts ranging from $20,000 to $800,000. They are presently in the process of expanding the study to include an additional four years of data dating as far back as 2007[2]. Cowan remarked that he believed that the discrimination may be “totally unconscious,” but Diane Thompson, counselor at the National Consumer Law Center, disagrees. Although she admitted that there are certainly multiple factors in play in the applications, including credit scores and earning power, she still believes that “it’s part of the long-established tradition of discrimination against women.”

Do you think that these results are significant? Have you ever had trouble getting a loan because you are a woman?

[1] http://nationalmortgageprofessional.com/news35428/recent-study-indicates-disparity-loans-women

[2] http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-12/business/ct-biz-0312-woodstock-borrowers–20130312_1_purchase-applications-mortgage-application-joint-home-loan

By Carole VanSickle