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Tag: Algorithm

Is an algorithm less racist than a home loan officer?

In 2015, Melany Anderson’s 6-year-old daughter came home from a play date and asked her mother a heartbreaking question: Why did all her friends have their own bedrooms?

Anderson, 41, a pharmaceutical benefits consultant, was recently divorced, living with her parents in West Orange, New Jersey, and sharing a room with her daughter. She longed to buy a home, but the divorce had emptied her bank account and wrecked her credit. She was working hard to improve her financial profile, but she couldn’t imagine submitting herself to the scrutiny of a mortgage broker.

“I found the idea of going to a bank completely intimidating and impossible,” she said. “I was a divorced woman and a Black woman. And also being a contractor — I know it’s frowned upon, because it’s looked at as unstable. There were so many negatives against me.”

Then, last year, Anderson was checking her credit score

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Is an Algorithm Less Racist Than a Loan Officer?

Trevor McIntosh, 35, and Brennan Johnson, 31, secured a mortgage for their Wheat Ridge, Colo., home through Better.com in 2018. “We’re both millennials and we need to immediately go online for anything,” said Mr. Johnson, a data analyst. “It seemed more modern and progressive, especially with the tech behind it.”

Previously, the couple had negative home buying experiences. One homeowner, they said, outright refused to sell to them. A loan officer also dropped a bunch of surprise fees just before closing. The couple wasn’t sure whether prejudice — unconscious or otherwise — was to blame, but they couldn’t rule it out. “Trevor and I have experienced discrimination in a variety of forms in the past, and it becomes ingrained in your psyche when interacting with any institution,” said Mr. Johnson. “So starting with digital, it seemed like fewer obstacles, at least the ones we were afraid of, like human bias.”

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