(Adds comments from the National Community Reinvestment
Coalition' chief program officer)
By Margaret Chadbourn
WASHINGTON, Sept 22 Lending for U.S. home
purchases fell 9 percent last year to a level that was 62
percent below the 2006 peak, U.S. financial regulators said on
The data also highlighted a significant decline in
refinancing activity despite the historically low interest
rates that prevailed throughout the year.
Banks are required to disclose detailed lending data under
the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act by March 1 of each
year, and regulators regularly provide an overview.
"Mortgage originations declined between 2009 and 2010 in
the HMDA data from just under 9 million loans to fewer than 8
million loans," the report from the regulators said. "Most
significant was the decline in the number of refinance loans."
About 8.4 million applicants filed to refinance their loans
in 2010, down from the 9.9 million loan applicants that were
approved for refinancing in the year 2009.
An estimated 2.3 million home refinances that otherwise
would have occurred did not go through last year because of
home prices declines and tighter lending standards, the report
The information collected by regulators is aimed at helping
them determine how consumers are faring in credit markets, and
whether any discriminatory lending patterns are emerging.
The 2010 data on home purchase showed that blacks and
Hispanic whites had "notably higher gross denial rates than
non-Hispanic whites, while the differences between Asians and
non-Hispanic whites generally were fairly small by comparison,"
the report said.
The same general pattern had been seen in prior years.
However, regulators cautioned that the data did not
necessarily "show illegal discrimination."
Higher denial rates could reflect variances in economic
circumstances and credit-worthiness. Further investigation
would be needed to determine if mortgage applicants were
"If you are white, affluent and have a pristine credit
report, this report confirms that you can obtain a mortgage or
refi your home," said David Berenbaum, chief program officer of
the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
"However, if you are struggling to sustain your home,
African American or Latino, the report confirms what many
working families already know - that mortgage credit despite
historic low rates is not readily available."
The coalition promotes access to basic banking services,
affordable housing and job development for working families.
The 2010 data consists of loan information reported by more
than 7,900 lenders, including all of the nation's largest
Berenbaum said the HMDA data underscores that restrictive
underwriting and ongoing fair lending issues are still barriers
for would-be buyers, and that challenges persist in communities
that have a high mortgage default rate.
The data collected through HMDA will be given to the newly
installed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for the first
time for their review.
(Reporting by Margaret Chadbourn; Editing by Kenneth Barry)