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Chicago Women May Have A Harder Time Getting Approved For A Mortgage Than Men

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Jun 22, 2015 7:00PM

Gender-based discrimination is alive and well, and may make it harder for some Chicago women to buy a home.

A new report by the Woodstock Institute found that women in the Chicago area are more likely to be turned down for mortgages than men.

The study looked at data from more than 211,000 applicants for home purchase loans in the six counties around Chicago, including Cook, and found that female applicants were 14.5 percent less-likely to have their loan application approved. And a woman whose name was first on a joint application was 28.3 percent less-likely to receive a loan than a man applying alone.

While Spencer Cowan, a vice president at the nonprofit research institution, told the Chicago Tribune that he would be hesitant to conclude that banks are discriminating against women based on this data alone, the findings still raise questions about how women may be at a disadvantage.

"If institutions look at their own portfolios and see this kind of disparity, I would think they would look at it and ask, 'Why is this happening? Are we doing something wrong?'" he said. "Homeownership is one of the ways people build wealth, which definitely improves your chance of success in our country. If women are less able to get a mortgage to buy a house, this is just another obstacle in the way of women attaining a measure of wealth and security that's so much a part of being able to have a successful life."

Among the various banks surveyed, Bank of America appeared to have the greatest gender gap, with 65.7 percent of female applicants receiving loans, compared to 71.2 percent of men. And for those applying for mortgage re-financings, 69.8 percent of women were approved compared to 77.8 percent of men.

The study also found "significant disparities" between the reasons banks denied loans to women and men. "Female applicants for either a purchase or refinance mortgage were more likely to be denied because of their credit histories or debt-to-income ratio than male applicants," the report says, while "Male applicants were more likely to be denied because of the collateral or because the credit application was incomplete."

The Woodstock Institute reported one main exception to this trend: for loan applicants in the lowest income brackets, women were slightly more likely to be approved for a loan than men. Though there is no definitive explanation for this, Cowan told the Tribune it could be that the women had better credit histories or employment histories than the men.