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Fannie Mae Updates Mortgage Underwriting to Help Renters

Posted by Sami Thalji | Aug 12, 2021

(Borrowed Chi Chi Wu, Consumer Advocate NCLC) This is a significant – and terrific - development, Fannie Mae will be using rental payment data to underwrite mortgages which may expand access to credit including to black, brown and minority borrowers. Based on the information we have it looks like Fannie will be doing it the right way. Rental payment data will only used with the applicant's permission. The consumer is in control of the whether to allow access to their data – unlike credit reports where consumers have no control. Fannie is using the data from electronic bank account info, not by having the data fed into the huge warehouses of data held by the oligopoly that is the credit bureaus. Finally, the first glimmer of hope to providing an alternative to a problematic and powerful industry. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that 45 million consumers or nearly 20% are either credit invisible or thin file – they don't have any info at a credit bureau or it's too sparse to generate a credit score. Lots of handwringing over this issue, and lots of calls to use “alternative data.” The vast majority of rent payment data doesn't show up in credit reports. But rent payments or any other alternative data requires lots of caution and care. You don't wanna just dump data into credit bureau databases where it could help some consumers but hurt others – badly. Fannie says it won't use missed or inconsistent payments and there's no way rent payment data can hurt the applicant's credit score, it'll only be used to help. That's SO important, and the most consumer-friendly way to do this. Black and Latinx consumers are more likely to be credit invisible. Fannie thinks this will help Black borrowers, and so do I. And its extra critical that this be the consumer's choice for Black borrowers – we want to help those who have a good rent payment record, but we don't want to hurt Black renters & others who have struggled to pay rent during this pandemic. 

About the Author

Sami Thalji

Sami Thalji is a native Floridian, born in Clearwater and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida. Sami graduated from Osceola High School in Seminole, Florida before attending and receiving both his Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida in Ga...


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