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Many lenders are leaving themselves vulnerable to fair lending exams and significant penalties by not properly monitoring and managing Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) reporting, a new study from Mortgage TrueView finds.

Based on a survey of nearly 400 of the country's top lenders - including seven of the top 10 lenders and 15 of the top 20 lenders - the study reveals that many mortgage companies and banks are not taking full advantage of the insights offered in HMDA data. What's more, many lenders are submitting HMDA data with formatting errors, which could raise red flags with regulators.

According to the findings, there was a 13% year-over-year increase in loan denial rates in 2013. Denial rates for white applicants increased from 17% to 21%, while denial rates for non-white applicants increased from 23% to 28%.

The survey also reveals that denial rates for Hispanics increased from 25% to 30%, while denial rates for non-Hispanics increased from 18% to 21%.

It also shows that denial rates for female applicants increased from 21% to 26%, while denial rates for males increased from 17% to 21%.

For its survey, Mortgage TrueView requested the 2013 public loan application register  filings from the top 1,160 mortgage originators in the country. Notably, the firm found that a sizable number of the 388 respondents had critical errors in their filings, including missing data fields, incomplete data fields, incomplete records and incorrect data formats.

"Regulators have made it clear that lenders face significant fines and penalties for non-compliance with HMDA reporting requirements," says David Moffat, president and CEO of Mortgage TrueView, in a statement. "Our survey shows that problems with the way the data is reported could raise that risk. We strongly recommend that lenders’ senior management get more involved in monitoring and managing HMDA reporting, as well as other regulatory reporting requirements."

Mortgage TrueView offers a product called HMDA Analytics that helps lenders identify trends in loan application data, compare their data to other lenders and call attention to risks that increase the likelihood of a fair lending examination. Using the solution's advanced analytics, lenders can gain an in-depth view of activities that can help reduce risk and financial exposure and ultimately lead to increased revenues, the company claims.

"The purpose of HMDA isn’t to point fingers," says Becky Walzak, executive vice president, director of regulatory compliance with Mortgage TrueView, and a well-known mortgage industry expert. "The intent is to show lenders where they may not be fulfilling minority needs. A good analysis of the data also tells lenders where there may be missing opportunities."


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