The New York City-based law firm of Traiger & Hinckley LLP, has released a study of 2004 data from ten leading national mortgage lenders, which shows "no meaningful differences" in the pricing of first lien home purchase loans with reported rate spreads.The law firm said lenders are treating minority and women homebuyers fairly. Traiger & Hinckley, which advises financial institutions on complying with federal and state anti-discrimination laws, looked at Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data from ABN AMRO, Bank of America, Citigroup, Countrywide, GMAC, JPMorgan Chase, National City, PHH, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo. According to an analysis of more than 90,000 loans, African-American and white borrowers paid essentially the same average rate spread, and Hispanic borrowers paid less on average than whites. The average rate spreads for men and women were almost identical. "So far, analyses of 2004 HMDA data have been largely limited to comparing the extent of loans with and without rate spreads for different borrower groups," said Warren Traiger, a partner at the firm. "The value of such analyses is hotly contested, since without information on borrower qualifications and loan characteristics, there is no way to assess the appropriateness of an APR. However, if, as some have alleged, minorities and women are being overcharged for loans, that disparity should carry over into loans with reported rate spreads."

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