Home loans to Native Hawaiians nearly overtake Indian mortgages

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WASHINGTON – Mortgage lenders increased their dollar volumes of home loans to American Indians by 10 percent in 2005 – but disbursed nearly as much in loans to the smaller Native Hawaiian population, government data show.

In fact, lenders loaned more dollars to Native Hawaiians than Indians in three of the seven subcategories the government tracks: refinancings, non-occupant mortgages and multifamily loans.

Lenders made $27.2 billion in mortgages to Indians and Alaska Natives for 2005, according to reports they filed to comply with the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. They reported nearly as much business, $26.5 billion, in home loans to Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (this includes Natives from Guam and American Samoa).

The total of $53.7 billion in Native lending is a big jump from 2004, when lenders reported making $24.9 billion in Indian loans and $21 billion to Native Hawaiians for a total of nearly $46 billion. That’s a 17 percent boost in lending: 10 percent more for American Indians, and 25 percent more for Native Hawaiians.

The government only split off Native Hawaiians from the “Asian” category in HMDA reporting last year, meaning lenders have very little experience in reporting them.

Indian Country Today tabulated the dollar volumes, which were not released by the government, by adding up the totals individual institutions reported in HMDA data sorted by National Mortgage News. A total of 3,587 lenders reported making mortgages to Indians in 2005, and 2,757 reported making home loans to Native Hawaiians.

An analysis by the National American Indian Housing Council of the HMDA data (collected by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council) found the number of home loans to Indians up by 5.4 percent, and a small decline in total loan denials.

An analysis of the individual categories of lending shows that the biggest niche of lending to Indians last year was in refinancing, at $9.4 billion in loans. That was followed by “conventional” mortgages (made by private lenders rather than the government) at $8.8 billion, non-owner occupant mortgages at $1.6 billion, home improvement loans at $1.2 billion, government loans at $488 million, $181 million in manufactured housing loans and $57 million in multi-family mortgages (for dwellings with more than four units).

While the manufactured housing amount seems small, it does not count manufactured housing loans tallied in other categories like government and conventional loans. The government category includes several agencies that make mortgage loans: the Farm Service Agency, the Rural Housing Service, the Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Department of Housing and Urban Development also has two mortgage programs for Natives: the HUD 184 guaranteed Indian mortgage and the Title VI.

For Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, the niche breakouts are $10 billion for refinancings, $8.4 billion in conventional mortgages, $2 billion in non-owner occupant mortages, $870 million in home improvement loans, $284 million in governments, $50 million in manufactured housing, and $64 million in multi-family.

Once again, the largest individual lender to Indians and Native Alaskans in 2005 was Countrywide Home Loans of Pasadena, Calif. The nation’s largest lender in 2005 made $4.5 billion in home loans to Indians and $3.2 billion to Native Hawaiians. That was a jump of 10 percent for Indian mortgages and a huge boost of more than 70 percent to Native Hawaiians.

Wells Fargo Bank, San Francisco, clearly was the second biggest lender to both American Indians and Native Hawaiians. Wells Fargo’s numbers are hard to determine precisely because it has dozens of units reporting HMDA numbers separately. But its two biggest units, including its Minneapolis-based finance company, reported $2 billion in mortgage lending to Indians and another $1.5 billion in home loans to Native Hawaiians.

Lehman Brothers Bank of New York came in third for 2005, with $1.2 billion in mortgages to American Indians and another $1.2 billion to Native Hawaiians. Lehman owns several “subprime” mortgage units.

Fourth was Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C., with $917 million in mortgages to Indians and $617 million to Native Hawaiians for 2005.