Skip to main content

Using data science to make a difference

May 20, 2023
Carlos Pla and Simran Batra
Carlos Pla and Simran Batra

Fannie Mae

Data Science Senior Manager Carlos Plá feels a sense of duty to help reshape a housing system that historically has left many underserved.

"Institutional racism in housing has a long history," said Carlos, who leads the Single-Family Analytics team. "Addressing that is a special responsibility that all of us who work here must share. I see helping to increase equitable access to credit as only one part of a broad mosaic, but it’s one part that I can influence, and I’m motivated to make a difference wherever I can."

Making a difference is what his team set out to do. Carlos’ team rose to the challenge of finding a way to help lenders qualify renters for a mortgage using their rental payment history, and a way to help borrowers without a credit score qualify for a mortgage based on their positive cash management habits.

Using data to identify possible first-time homebuyers

Simran Batra, a Data Science Senior Associate, spent months combing through and analyzing bank statement data to determine how to identify consistent rent payment transactions. She used sampling, text analysis, natural language processing, time series analysis, statistics and machine learning to make sense of this novel data source.

After many iterations, she and her teammates finally landed on a predictive model for identifying rent payments, the key enabler to help lenders qualify borrowers based on their history of on-time rent payments.

“It was exciting that we were doing something to help first-time homebuyers with thin credit,” Simran said. “But there was still that gap of people who don’t have a credit score. We wanted to address that gap.”

Unlocking opportunities for individuals without credit

Next, Simran and her teammates used this work as a springboard to create a model to analyze a renter’s overall money management activity if they do not have a credit score.

"For years, borrowers without credit scores had few alternatives when applying for a mortgage due to certain credit-based restrictions," Carlos said. "Now, because of the innovation, coupled with other updates to our risk assessment, Fannie Mae is responsibly lifting these restrictions to serve more borrowers."

One piece of the housing equity puzzle

In the U.S., some 26 million adults are “credit invisible,” meaning they have no credit history with any credit reporting companies, and 19 million consumers have credit histories too limited to score*. What’s more, 15% of Black and Latino consumers are credit invisible, while just 9% of White and Asian Americans fall into that category*.

“None of us can fix the whole system, but we can each bring an equity focus to the pieces that we touch,” Carlos said.

Carlos and his team plan to build off these innovations so Fannie Mae can responsibly serve more borrowers and continue improving equitable access to affordable housing.

“I know people are going from not qualifying for a mortgage to becoming homeowners and that’s incredibly fulfilling,” Simran said. “That’s one of the main reasons I joined Fannie Mae – to make an impact on people’s lives.”

At Fannie Mae, we all make an impact. Join our team to help make a difference in equitable access to housing.

*Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Learn more about working with us.

Employee Stories  Life at Fannie Mae  View Open Positions 

An Equal Opportunity Employer

Fannie Mae is an equal employment opportunity employer and considers qualified applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender expression, marital or parental status, or any other protected factor. Fannie Mae is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment, unless to do so would cause undue hardship to the company. If you need assistance using our online system and/or you need a reasonable accommodation related to the hiring/application process, please complete this form.

RECRUITMENT FRAUD ALERT: Please be aware of recruitment scams that may involve offering fictious job opportunities, requesting personal information, or demanding payments during the recruitment process. All open positions are located on Fannie Mae’s careers site and are based in the United States. Official Fannie Mae email addresses end with and Fannie Mae will not use online chats or instant messaging to conduct interviews. Fannie Mae will not ask for a financial commitment from candidates during the recruiting process. Please contact us via e-mail if you are concerned you have been offered employment with Fannie Mae that might be a scam or contacted for a job by an individual who does not represent or work at Fannie Mae.

California residents, under the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), Fannie Mae is required to inform any California resident who is our job applicant about the categories of “personal information” we collect about you and the purposes for which we will use this information. To read the full notice, please click here.