Plan aims to ease an antibias law’s mortgage-reporting rules

The Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2019: Plan aims to ease an antibias law’s mortgage-reporting rules

Small banks and credit unions could get a break on providing mortgage data to the government under a plan released Thursday, reducing the amount of borrower information collected under a law aimed at preventing lending discrimination.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it would propose changes to rules dating from a 1970s law that requires lenders to gather and report data on their mortgage loans and applicants, including the loan amount and the borrower’s income, race and gender.

The proposed changes were welcomed by some industry groups as a step to reduce the costs to sell a mortgage, but drew criticism from consumer advocates who said the moves would undermine efforts to ensure equal access to housing.

Under the current Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, nearly 5,000 financial institutions are required to report mortgage and borrower data to regulators. The proposed changes would exempt more than one-third of those lenders from submitting the data to the government.

Consumer advocates criticized the proposed step. The CFPB separately made recent changes to its mortgage database, which critics say makes it more difficult for the public to  download and analyze information.

“This is bringing more darkness to the mortgage market,” said Jesse Van Tol, chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

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