How the investigation was done
To examine Ameriquest lending practices, The Seattle Times needed to obtain the age of borrowers. We downloaded all Ameriquest deeds of...
To examine Ameriquest lending practices, The Seattle Times needed to obtain the age of borrowers. We downloaded all Ameriquest deeds of trust from 2002 to 2006 from the King County Recorder's Office Web site — more than 4,000 loans.
That gave us the name of the borrower and the legal description of the property, including (in most cases) the parcel number. Using the parcel number, we linked to the county property database for the address. Then, we used the name and address to link to voter-registration and driver's license databases to find birth dates.
For those deeds of trust that did not contain the parcel number, we got the addresses directly from loan documents at the recorder's office.
We could not find ages for about 1,500 of the borrowers in the voter or driver databases. For those we had Accurint, a commercial service, match names and addresses to the publicly available portion of credit records, looking for birth dates. In the end there were still 179 loans — 4 percent of the total — for which we did not find the age of the borrower. These were excluded from the analysis.
We also analyzed federal home-mortgage data on individual loan applications. That showed us how many loans Ameriquest originated for home purchase, improvement or refinance, and it allowed us to compare it to the industry as a whole.
— Justin Mayo
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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