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Underwriting for Home Loans Tightened Last Year, OCC Survey Says

Loan underwriting standards for some commercial and retail products eased over the past year as banks responded to changes in economic outlook, competition and risk appetite, according to a U.S. government survey.

Underwriting tightened somewhat for high loan-to-value home equity, international, construction and residential real estate loans, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said today in its annual survey of credit underwriting at 87 of the largest lenders.

Industry standards for $4.6 trillion in loans reviewed were largely unchanged from the previous year, with the biggest banks easing standards on credit cards and corporate loans, according to the survey. Residential mortgage standards were tightened at 25 percent of banks while previous tightening of business-banking practices lessened, with 82 percent of banks saying they went unchanged since the year before.

“This year’s survey showed the continued normal progression toward stable or easing underwriting standards as the economic environment stabilizes,” said John Lyons, the OCC’s senior deputy comptroller and chief national bank examiner. “Examiners will be focusing on underwriting standards as banks ease standards to improve margins and compete for limited good loans.”

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