On September 18, the CFPB launched a new web-based tool for use in analyzing HMDA data. The CFPB explains that its new HMDA tool focuses on the number of mortgage applications and originations, in addition to loan purposes and loan types for 2010 through 2012, and allows the public to see nationwide summaries or employ interactive features to isolate the information for metropolitan areas. The CFPB is planning additional features for the site, including (i) “easy-to-use tools” that allow users to filter HMDA records and create summary tables and (ii) an application programming interface that will allow researchers and software developers to incorporate the CFPB-provided HMDA data into other applications and visualizations. During a CFPB Consumer Advisory Board meeting at which the new tool was demonstrated, Director Cordray explained that the CFPB’s HMDA tool is designed to enhance the value of the HMDA data to help identify potentially discriminatory lending patterns and determine whether lenders are serving the housing needs of their communities.

The launch corresponded with the FFIEC’s annual HMDA data release. The release provides data on mortgage lending transactions—including applications, originations, purchases and sales of loans, denials, and other actions related to applications—provided by 7,400 U.S. financial institutions covered by HMDA for the 2012 calendar year. The FFIEC release notes that 2012 HMDA data are the first to use the census tract delineations and population and housing characteristic data from the 2010 Census and from the American Community Survey and that the boundaries of many census tracts have been revised in the process of transitioning to the 2010 Census, and cautions users that boundary changes and updates to the population and housing characteristics of census tracts complicate intertemporal analysis of the annual HMDA data. The release further advises users that while the HMDA data can inform analysis of fair lending compliance, the HMDA data alone cannot be used to determine whether a lender is complying with fair lending laws because they do not include many potential determinants of creditworthiness and loan pricing, such as the borrower’s credit history, debt-to-income ratio, and the loan-to-value ratio.