Black Americans see higher mortgage approval rate, yet less than whites, study says

Central Florida pastor found creative solution to helping son achieve the American dream.

All around Central Florida, there is construction on new homes.

But owning those homes is still out of reach for many Black Americans, according to Jeff Tucker who is a senior economist for Zillow.

“We found that Black applicants for mortgages get denied about 16% of the time, which is far higher than the rate of denial for white applicants, which is about 9%,” Tucker said.

Zillow used data from the government’s Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.

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In Florida, the numbers are slightly higher than the national stats, according to Zillow —17% of Blacks are denied, second to Native Americans at 19%, compared to 11% of whites.

Pew Research Center used the same data in 2015 and found Blacks were denied 27% of the time — so there has been an improvement.

Pastor Victor Blair is well aware of the statistics and found a solution to his son having to qualify for a mortgage.

“I don’t take credit for it, that was Kimberly, my wife’s idea,” Blair said.

About 15 years ago, Blair and his wife bought a plot of land in Oviedo as an investment.

They have a close friend who is a contractor. They gave the friend one of the lots and in exchange, he built them a house at cost on the other lot and there was no contract.

“No contract, nothing more than a handshake, a gentlemen’s agreement and it worked out,” Blair said.

It really worked out for Blair’s 30-year-old son, Zachary Blair.

His parents gave him a brand new, 3-bedroom, 2-bath house, with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and a two-car garage, all mortgage-free — but not entirely free.

“He’s going to pay me. I’m the mortgage company,” Blair said. “But he doesn’t have that stress.”

“Objectively looking at it, I am in a pretty, pretty amazing position, to say the least,” Zachary Blair said. “And I definitely don’t take it for granted.”

Accumulating Wealth

“Homeownership is absolutely tied up with how most Americans actually accumulate their wealth,” Tucker said.

This is why the numbers showing minorities being disproportionately denied mortgages are troubling. It prevents many from accumulating generational wealth, Tucker said.

“This tells me if you have to look at a single area of American life that is driving the disparities in wealth between Black and white families, homeownership is the place to look,” Tucker said.

In addition to building equity, there are some perks to having your father be your lender.

What if Zachary is a little late with payments?

“I want my money on the first of the month, that’s for sure,” Victor Blair said with a laugh.

Don’t just hear the stats and about denial rates and get discouraged, Tucker said.

There are a lot of first-time buyer counseling services out there — some government-run, some are non-profits.

They can walk you through the process of improving your credit and getting down payment assistance — two of the biggest reasons for denials.


About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.