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Pregnant and borrowing: maternity mortgage

Mortgage lenders are not allowed to deny or delay a loan to a woman simply because she is on maternity leave. Yet the Department of Housing and Urban Development says it receives complaints that this is happening.

"Where lenders run up against the fair lending law is where they single out pregnant women for a difference in treatment based upon an assumption that either they're not being paid on leave, they don't have a job to go back to, or that they are unwilling to go back," said John Trasvina, HUD's assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

Under the law, lenders may not use parental leave as a basis for denial if the borrower demonstrates that she intends to return to work, and otherwise has enough income to qualify for the mortgage loan.

In response to the HUD investigations, MomsRising, an advocacy group, asked its members whether they had experienced discrimination in lending, and received some 200 responses through its Web site. "We heard everything from women who were newly married going in with their spouses and having potential lenders asking illegal questions like, 'When are you going to have a baby?' to actual discrimination in the home loan," said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, the executive director.


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