New Down Payment Rules May Be Discriminatory

Ready to cough up a higher down payment to buy a home? Mortgage financing availability was cited as the single-greatest factor prohibiting people of color from fulfilling dreams of homeownership, according to a March survey of multicultural real estate professionals -- some of whom say policy makers need to do more for minority home buyers in order to avoid a repeat of the subprime lending crisis.

"The government's housing recovery efforts have not gone far enough to improve the situation facing minority homeowners," said Kenneth Li, chairman of the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), who, under the "Multicultural Real Estate Coalition," joined with leaders of the nation's two other largest organizations representing multicultural real estate professionals to issue a March 15-released public letter of their concerns.

One of its concerns: A very high down payment requirement or high FICO cut-off would limit residential mortgage eligibility to a narrow segment of the market, essentially creating a perhaps unintended impact on minority and traditionally under-served consumers.