If it was between the names Jessica Smith and LaKeisha Jackson appearing on a mortgage loan application, a new study says that having the “black sounding” name could prevent a person from getting a loan.
In a 3-year study led by Andrew Hanson, associate professor of economics at Marquette University, used email correspondence to test mortgage loan originator (MLO) responses to borrower queries.
Hanson’s study was quite simple. Hanson sent two identical emails to more than 5,000 lenders, one from a person with a “white” sounding name and another from a person with a “black” sounding name.
Some of the “white” names used were Maxwell Baker, Spencer Miller and Jake Krueger. “Black” names included Jamal Washington, Terrell Banks and DaQuan Booker. The emails also included information about the borrower’s low credit score, high credit score or did not contain credit score information at all.
“Our results show that MLOs discriminate on the basis of race and treat clients differently by their reported credit score,” the study conclusion said. “We find that on net, 1.8% of MLOs discriminate by not responding to inquiries from African-Americans while responding to inquiries from white clients. We find larger net response differences across credit score types, with 8.5% of MLOs responding to clients in our high-credit-score group while not responding to clients who do not report a credit score.”
“Overall, the effect of being African-American on MLO response is roughly the equivalent to the effect of having a credit score that is 71 points lower,” the study concluded.
Hanson also noted that MLOs sent more follow-up questions to the “white” sounding borrowers.