Bill Lann Lee, acting assistant attorney general in charge of enforcing fair-lending laws, said the Justice Department will continue to focus on discrimination in underwriting, marketing, and pricing.
"But our emphasis will be different," Mr. Lee told the Consumer Bankers Association's 1998 Fair Lending Conference. "Our current investigative emphasis is on mortgage lenders that are nonbank and that do only a subprime business."
Mr. Lee said the Justice Department is particularly interested in subprime manufactured-housing loans. It has asked the Federal Reserve Board to require lenders to identify mobile home credits on Home Mortgage Disclosure Act reports, he said.
Noting "the disproportionate representation of minorities in the subprime market," Mr. Lee said, "our concern is not only with the high denial rates ... but also with the high cost of credit."
He hailed the entry of more banks in the subprime business. "The banks' presence can begin to cure what we see as a major flaw in the subprime market-the lack of standard underwriting guidelines," Mr. Lee said. "We believe that the current lack of anything approaching uniformity enables unfettered price discretion."