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.
@JoshRosner go to our website under research— David H. Stevens (@DavidHStevens) May 20, 2014
@DavidHStevens you said it was HMDA data. Did your team play w the HMDA data & add non-mortgage eligible manufactured housing to the number?— joshua rosner (@JoshRosner) May 20, 2014
@JoshRosner Its direct from HMDA Josh - really?? this is not even debated by any analyst - its in HMDA - go online and pull the tables— David H. Stevens (@DavidHStevens) May 20, 2014
@JoshRosner wrong table Josh - this is aggregate - dude really??— David H. Stevens (@DavidHStevens) May 21, 2014
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.
@JoshRosner don't you have staff to research / you r the only one challenging public data— David H. Stevens (@DavidHStevens) May 21, 2014
@DavidHStevens remember, you said it was on the MBA site under research. Show us all the raw data and the method.— joshua rosner (@JoshRosner) May 21, 2014
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.
@JoshRosner Josh, email me at work and we will personally walk you through this: your tweeting is ridiculous. HMDA in 140 characters— David H. Stevens (@DavidHStevens) May 21, 2014
@DavidHStevens That is the file I posted last eve which you patronizingly told me was wrong.— joshua rosner (@JoshRosner) May 21, 2014
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?