Lending groups urge high court to reject Obama administration’s discrimination test

Critics: Focusing on outcomes, rather than intent, flies in the face of sound underwriting practices

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Trade groups representing mortgage lenders filed a “friend of the court” brief last week with the U.S. Supreme Court that has far-ranging implications for the availability and cost of home loans. The underlying issue: When lenders use credit scores and other commonplace risk assessment measures to determine whether, and at what price, to make mortgages to applicants, could they be violating the federal Fair Housing Act? Given the well-documented statistical differences among white, African-American and Latino households’ incomes, net worth and credit scores, could the use of underwriting standards based on these criteria be a form of inadvertent discrimination against homebuyers from minority groups? “Township of Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Garden Citizens Action Inc." -- the upcoming Supreme Court case that provoked the unusual brief from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Consumer Mortgage Coalition and banking groups –– does not directly involve home mortgages o...