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Opinion, commentary, and analysis on everything that makes the U.S. housing economy tick -- not to mention the ghosts in the machine, too. Written by HW's team of editors and reporters each business day.
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The most epic Twitter war, ever

Housing finance policy leads industry experts to duke it out on social media

May 22, 2014

David Stevens, CEO at the Mortgage Bankers Association, and Josh Rosner, a well-known analyst at Graham, Fisher & Co., have been going at it via Twitter for the past few days -- it's truly an epic Twitter war for the ages.

If you've not been following on Twitter, you've probably been missing the best debate in housing finance going on right now.

And that's OK, because it's all right here.

The latest row between the two respected industry experts began when HousingWire published remarks made by the MBA's Stevens at the industry group's most recent conference in New York City.

In his remarks, Stevens claimed that "[t]he 2012 HMDA data shows a 56% denial rate on GSE purchase loan applications for African Americans," as part of his argument that minorities are already being crowded out of the U.S. housing market.

Rosner wasn't buying those numbers and took to Twitter to express his views.

Stevens then told Rosner to go look up the numbers himself, and the debate began.

At this point, others started to take notice of the debate, including Jesse Van Tol at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

Undaunted, both Rosner and Stevens kept going at it, with Stevens wondering why Rosner didn't have staff to do his research for him.

Now plenty of people were taking notice and weighing in, from Nick Timiraos at the Wall Street Journal to Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, all providing data on the issue being debated: mortgage denial rates for African American borrowers.

Zillow's data report showed that the denial rate for African Americans via conventional loans was 33.5%, which was quite different than the 56% figure cited by Stevens, and so the debate continued on, getting even more heated -- and, amazingly, not dying out.

The raw data file in question (available here) led another industry observer to weigh in via Twitter and help resolve the debate.

Rosner had the last word (so far), now that the source of the differences has been identified.

So, in the end, who do you think was right? Was Stevens right in asserting a 56% denial figure for African Americans? Or was Rosner right in saying that figure was too high?

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