In late 2019, Molly Stuart’s contract ended at the community college where she worked. “Normally, I’d just get a new job, but then Covid happened,” she said. So she collected unemployment for awhile, then retired.
In 2021, hoping to give herself some financial breathing room, she tried to refinance the three-bedroom ranch house she had bought 18 years earlier on an acre of land in Sacramento County, Calif.
“I’m an extremely good risk,” said Ms. Stuart, 60, a lawyer. She had a 30-year work history and a credit rating above 800. Her remaining mortgage was $102,000, but she estimated that the house was worth about $500,000. She had already paid off the mortgage on another house in Sacramento, which she rented out.
But her mortgage company denied her application. “I didn’t qualify for a refinance because I didn’t have enough income,” she said. “It was extremely frustrating.”