What is a variable-width, pipe delimited text file? (HMDA Reporting)

Compliance > Regulation C - HMDA > FFIEC FAQs
Q:  What is a variable-width, pipe delimited text file?
  1. A pipe delimited text file is a file containing multiple data fields separated by a pipe character, “|”, to distinguish where each data field starts and ends. Files are stored in plain text as numbers and letters with one record per line.
  2. Data fields will vary in width, depending on the response.
  3. To leave a data field blank, as permitted in some cases by Regulation C and the Filing Instructions Guide (FIG), enter two consecutive pipes with no spaces in between the pipes, like this “||”.
  4. A pipe delimited text file for data collected in 2017 should look like this1 :
    1. In a HMDA file, the first row begins with a “1”. All subsequent rows will begin with a “2”.
    2. As the example demonstrates, depending on the data field, information can be of different lengths.
    3. Blank data fields are indicated by two consecutive pipes.

1 This example is provided for illustrative purposes only and does not represent all the data fields reported in a row within the loan/application register.
This FAQ, and others, were identified as being published by the FFIEC and HUD; and were obtained from the CFPB’s website, Resources for HMDA Filers page, which can be found here: 


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