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Home Mortgage Disclosure Act: Defined And Explained

January 29, 2024 4-minute read

Author: Kara Porter

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When applying for a mortgage, a lot of information is gathered during the process. This information helps to customize your loan to your specific needs. However, this data also presents a unique chance for regulators. The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act mandates that qualified lenders report data to the federal government.

What Is The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA)?

The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) is a federal law that requires certain financial institutions to report on their lending practices. The HMDA aims to promote transparency in mortgage lending activities and prevent discriminatory lending practices while ensuring fair access to mortgage credit. The law mandates qualified mortgage lenders to report on their lending activities, which helps the federal government achieve three primary goals. First, it helps to determine if the covered lenders support the residential housing needs in their communities. Secondly, it allows public officials to choose where public funding can be best utilized to attract private capital where it's most needed. Lastly, the data is used to identify possible discrimination in lending. These three objectives make the act a crucial component of the federal government's effort to provide equal opportunity housing in the United States.

Initially, the Federal Reserve was responsible for implementing and enforcing lenders’ reporting responsibilities, which they put into effect by authoring Regulation C. As part of the Dodd-Frank Act. Rulemaking under the law was transferred to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in 2010. The CFPB collects and analyzes the data submitted by elders under HMDA, monitors for potential discriminatory practices and takes enforcement actions against institutions that violate the law.

The law was enacted in 1975 to address concerns about discrimination in lending practices, particularly in low-income and minority neighborhoods. It mandates public reporting about the mortgage lending activities of covered institutions. Over the years, there have been amendments to HMDA to enhance its effectiveness and coverage. Congress wanted to legally compel mortgage lenders to give public officials and citizens the tools to determine whether they were serving their communities appropriately. The law's purpose is to guarantee that lenders are providing adequate support for access to real estate in the communities they serve without discrimination based on a protected class. The government also uses the data to determine where its funding for homeownership programs can be best allocated. The law has been renewed several times since it was first enacted.

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How Does The HMDA Work?

The HMDA requires certain lenders to collect and report data related to their mortgage lending activities. This includes information about loan applicants' demographics, loan details and property information. The data is then submitted annually to regulatory authorities like the CFPB. To protect privacy, lenders combine and anonymize data. The CFPB oversees observation and analyzes the data for trends and potential issues. This information is made public, allowing consumers and policymakers to assess lending practices and identify any concerns regarding fair lending. The process confirms transparency, helps prevent discriminatory practices and promotes fair access to mortgage credit.

Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Data: What Information Is Reported?

The HMDA requires lenders to report detailed information about mortgage applications and loans. This includes:

  • Applicant details: Personal information about applicants, such as race, ethnicity, gender, income and credit score.

  • Property details: Information about the property being financed, including its location and type.

  • Loan details: Specifics related to the loan, such as the loan amount, interest rate, term and whether it’s a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage.

  • Loan status: Information about the final loan decision, including whether the application was approved, denied or withdrawn. HMDA also captures data on the reasons for denial if applicable.

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The Importance Of HMDA Reporting

HMDA reporting is extremely important because it helps ensure that banks and lenders are handling mortgage activities in a fair and just manner. By reporting on their mortgage activities through HMDA, banks, and lenders are held accountable for how they treat people who want to buy homes. This reporting is significant because it reveals whether everyone has an equal opportunity to obtain a mortgage or if some individuals are treated unfairly. HMDA helps ensure that everyone plays by the same rules when it comes to acquiring a mortgage. The findings from this report are similar to the referee blowing the whistle when something is wrong. It helps regulators, such as the CFPB, monitor the situation and intervene if they detect any unlawful practices. Therefore, HMDA is like having a fair set of rules in your favorite game. It guarantees that when it's your turn to purchase a home, the process is equitable and impartial for you and everyone else.

Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Resources

If you’re interested in obtaining the HMDA data to research mortgage lending in your community, evaluate the effectiveness of programs or use it as a source to assess mortgage lenders, please note that the data is publicly available.

You can access the HMDA data directory through the CFPB website, where you can search for nationwide datasets and individual lenders. Here are some ways you can access HMDA data:

  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): The CFPB website has a user-friendly interface for accessing HMDA data.

  • Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC): The FFIEC provides a platform for accessing aggregated HMDA data.

  • Gov: HMDA data is also available on Data.Gov, a comprehensive resource for various datasets.

  • National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC): The NCRC offers tools and resources for exploring HMDA data.

The Bottom Line

The HMDA was designed to ensure lenders are more transparent about their lending activities and held accountable to any issues. The data reported includes everything from who's applying for loans to what happens in the end. The idea is to keep things fair and open in the world of mortgage lending. The CFPB keeps an eye on this and uses the info to guarantee lenders are playing by the rules.

There’s a vast amount of information available from the CFPB that can assist public officials in assessing the success of housing programs and initiatives in their communities. In addition, the publications provide a broad overview of the data. Potential clients can also search for individual lending institutions.

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Kara Porter

Kara T. Porter is a freelance writer from Southern University and A&M College, earning her B.A. in Mass Communications. You can connect with her via her Linked In