CHARLOTTE, NC – Anyone who has bought a home knows there is a big difference between buying and renting.
Courtney Hill has wanted to know the sentiment for a while.
A few years ago she bought her first house, but it hardly happened.
When she applied for her loan from a mortgage company, she was turned down. This was despite everyone around her saying that she was doing well financially.
“I was disappointed,” says Hill. “If a person is not qualified, they have to tell you what is needed to become qualified. I didn’t understand any of this.
Two days later, another mortgage company immediately approved it.
It made her wonder why this had happened. She says she honestly doesn’t know.
“For years, black people have had to overcome higher hurdles or overcome higher hurdles than whites to get a home loan,” says real estate broker Valarie Brooks.
Brooks has been in the industry for over 20 years, and although she hasn’t worked with Hill, she says early in her career she also encountered black clients who were turned down for loans.
“It’s simple. The color of your skin. It’s no secret,” said Brooks.
In 2015, Bench search found that 27 percent of black applicants and 19 percent of Hispanics were denied mortgages. This compares to 11% of white and Asian applicants.
Lenders cited bad credit history as the main reason they turned down black applicants.
But Brooks says it’s not that clear, and it’s also difficult to determine why someone is being turned down.
“You can’t just say, ‘I was turned down because I’m black,” Brooks says. “Someone with a credit score of 800, has a good job, and a good bill paying history, you should not have to produce an excessive amount of documents as the next person. “
This is why Brooks reviews its mortgage lenders and now only refers selected companies to its clients.
Hill learned a lot during the home buying process, and while she can’t say for sure why she was denied that initial mortgage, she believes skin color may have played a role.
One of the reasons is that years before buying a house, she says she received a letter from the financial group dealing with her car loan explaining that she had been sued for charging higher interest rates to minorities.
“It was camouflaged with a higher interest, so it wasn’t that direct in my face,” Hill says.
Hill is now a real estate investor with his business partner and uses his experiences to help his clients.
“If I had quit, first of all, I wouldn’t have my house … and I wouldn’t be able to provide affordable housing for others, either,” Hill says.