Mortgage Rates Jan. 18: Up Slightly; Big Banks Accused of Mortgage Discrimination

Mortgage rates made small moves this morning, with 30-year fixed and 5/1 ARM rates ticking up a hair, and 15-year fixed rates holding steady for the third day in a row, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage rates published by national lenders on Wednesday.

Mortgage Rates Today,
Wednesday, Jan. 18

(Change from 1/17)
30-year fixed: 4.31% APR (+0.01)
15-year fixed: 3.70% APR (NC)
5/1 ARM: 3.84% APR (+0.02)

JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America face mortgage discrimination charges

Two of the nation’s largest mortgage originators stand accused of discriminatory lending practices by the U.S. government. Today, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York filed a lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase claiming the bank charged at least 53,000 black and Hispanic borrowers higher interest rates and loan fees between 2006 and 2009.

JPMorgan has agreed to a settlement, reported to be $55 million, and issued the following statement: “We’ve agreed to settle these legacy allegations that relate to pricing set by independent brokers. We deny any wrongdoing and remain committed to providing equal access to credit.”

» MORE: Calculate how much house you can afford

Today’s action follows a similar charge against Bank of America made less than two weeks ago by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, alleging discriminatory lending practices against Hispanic borrowers in South Carolina.

The lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase claims the lender charged minority borrowers, on average, about $1,000 more in fees than white borrowers with similar risk profiles. The U.S. government also says the bank paid mortgage brokers bonuses for selling customers loans with higher interest rates.

Damages to borrowers could amount to “tens of millions of dollars,” according to the lawsuit. Attorneys for JPMorgan Chase filed a response with the court denying the allegations.

The HUD lawsuit against Bank of America alleges that two employees offered less favorable mortgage loan terms to female Hispanic prospective borrowers compared with non-Hispanic females. The claims are based on loan estimates offered to potential borrowers in tests conducted by the National Fair Housing Alliance.

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published APR with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Michael Burge is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: NerdWallet writer Hal Bundrick contributed to this report.

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See the full story at Michael Burge