ERC Publishes Know-Your-Rights Resource on Sales and Lending Discrimination

By Nick Adjami
April 12, 2022

Many people dream of owning a home and the financial advantages that can come from such an investment, but for too many Americans, discrimination in home sales and mortgage lending gets in the way.

A recent ABC News analysis found that in the Milwaukee area in 2019, white home loan applicants were approved at a rate 1.5 times higher than applicants of color with similar incomes and loan requests. Overall, white people filed four times more mortgage applications than did people of color, and had 73 percent of those loans approved, compared to 49 percent for people of color. Similar disparities were found in metro areas across the country.

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition found similarly troubling numbers for LGBTQ+ homebuyers. A 2020 analysis found that same-sex couples were more likely to have their home loans denied than different-sex couples, in addition to paying higher closing costs and being charged higher interest rates.

Meanwhile, Urban Institute studies have found evidence of discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in home sales. In matched-pair tests, AAPI testers were told about 15.5 percent fewer available properties for sale than their white counterparts and were shown 18.8 percent fewer properties.

One’s ability to both get a mortgage loan and find a home can have major consequences, as homeownership is a key factor in building generational wealth within families. A 2017 Federal Reserve study found that, in 2016, the average homeowner had a household wealth of $231,400, while the average renter had a household wealth of $5,200.

Even among homeowners though, marginalized groups continue to face discrimination, which can diminish the economic advantage that owning a home should provide. Recent stories from California, Florida, Colorado, and Indiana for example, have shone a spotlight on race-based appraisal discrimination. These stories center Black homeowners who received appraisals they felt were unfairly low. They responded by calling for second appraisals, but first “whitewashed” their homes by removing family pictures and Black art and literature. They then had white friends or family members stand in for them during the reappraisals. Those reappraisals resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars more in value than the appraisals that took place before the “whitewashing” occurred.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, disability, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), and familial status (the presence of children under the age of 18 in one’s household). The law applies to most housing transactions, including buying or selling a home, applying for a mortgage or home loan, receiving a property appraisal, and seeking homeowner’s insurance. To help make homeowners, buyers, and sellers aware of their rights, the Equal Rights Center has released a one-page resource outlining some common forms of discrimination and options for recourse if you suspect you’ve been discriminated against. The resource is also available in Spanish and Amharic.

Front page of the ERC's sales and lending discrimination resource. For a screen-reader accessible version, visit page of the ERC's sales and lending discrimination resource. For a screen-reader accessible version, visit


If you believe you may have experienced discrimination in housing, you can contact the Equal Rights Center. To report your experience, please call 202-234-3062 or email

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