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Gilbert defends Quicken’s Detroit lending

Christine MacDonald
The Detroit News

Detroit — Dan Gilbert and Quicken Loans officials defended the company’s lending practices late Thursday and criticized a Detroit News report that examined the mortgage company’s foreclosures in the city.

Gilbert tweeted that the article was “shoddy, lazy journalism” and linked to a fact sheet posted online that outlined the company’s “track record of responsible lending.”

Gilbert also linked to a website that annotated The News’ story with details on his company’s lending practices.

The News reported Wednesday that Quicken Loans had the fifth-highest number of mortgages that ended in foreclosure in Detroit over the last decade — and 52 percent of those are now blighted. The story was part of a multi-part project that examined the role foreclosures played in Detroit blight. Gilbert has taken a leading role in the fight against the city’s blight, co-chairing a task force convened by the Obama administration to tackle the problem.

“The facts prove, the mortgages Quicken Loans wrote were to qualified homeowners with good credit profiles,” according to the Quicken fact sheet. “Despite solid credit profiles and prudent underwriting guidelines, no mortgage can be future-proof or foresee the impending economic crisis that impacted Detroit immensely.”

Citywide, 56 percent of all mortgage foreclosures are now considered blighted, need to be demolished or have been seized by Wayne County for unpaid taxes. The News reported that Quicken’s rate of blighted foreclosures is well below that of now-defunct subprime lenders, including Argent, Ameriquest and Washington Mutual (70 percent) and New Century (67 percent).

Gilbert has blamed the majority of Detroit blight on the city’s high tax rate and over-assessed properties.

“The real housing crisis in Detroit is the absurd structure of property taxes in the City of Detroit,” the fact sheet read.

Gilbert’s tweets marked at least the second time he criticized the report. He earlier made comments to WJR radio (760 AM) on Wednesday.

Gilbert has helped fund a survey last year that found nearly 40,000 structures need to be torn down. The News used Gilbert’s Detroit Blight Task Force findings and thousands of property records to examine the fate of the city’s estimated 65,000 foreclosures.