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Housing lending distribution skewed

WASHINGTON -- A closer look at the federal government's 2004 mortgage
counts shows that Native Hawaiians get bigger mortgages than American
Indians.

While the government doesn't include such a calculation in its Home
Mortgage Disclosure Act reports, the combined volume of loans made to
American Indians and Alaska Natives (one category) and Native Hawaiians and
other Pacific Islanders (now in a category separate from "Asians") divided
by the total number of loans shows that Native Hawaiians on average got a
mortgage of $194,557 in 2004 while American Indians who were extended
credit averaged $155,615 -- some $40,000 less.

According to data filed with the Federal Financial Institutions Examination
Council by 8,853 lenders, in 2004 those lenders extended $24.9 billion in
mortgages to Indians and $21.2 billion to Native Hawaiians, making 159,817
loans to Indians and 108,902 loans to Hawaiians.

While the number of loans seems vastly higher than in previous years, the
number of "Native Americans" counted by the government is also vastly
higher. More than 4 million people counted themselves as at least partially
Indian on the 2000 U.S. Census, the first time such multiple-ethnicity
identification was allowed. Also, some Indians may have received more than
one loan, such as a second lien or home improvement loan, which was
accounted for in this tally.

With Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (natives of Guam and
American Samoa) concentrated in Hawaii, the loan amount discrepancy between
them and Indians becomes more understandable. Honolulu traditionally ranks
at or near the top of cities with the most expensive housing in the nation.

The loan amounts to both types' rates towards the lower end of the
spectrum. For comparison, the federal secondary mortgage agencies, Fannie
Mae and Freddie Mac, considered to be in the mainstream of the market, will
buy mortgages of more than $400,000.

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In all, more than 3,700 lenders reported making mortgages to Indians in
2004. However, more than 1,300 of these made just one loan to an American
Indian. Twenty-eight institutions reported making more than 1,000 loans to
an Indian in 2004.

The leader, Countrywide Home Loan of California, made more than 22,000
loans to Indians, for a total of $4 billion.

It was followed by Wells Fargo Bank, Minneapolis, with 7,500 loans. Its
colleague, Wells Fargo Funding, made an additional 3000 loans (ninth
place). In total, the two made $1.5 billion in Native loans. In third place
was Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C., with 7,100 loans for $1 billion.

Fourth in number of loans was Lehman Brothers Bank, N.Y., at 5,641. Fifth
was Argent Mortgage of Irvine, Calif., at 4,119. However, if the volume of
its affiliate, Ameriquest Mortgage Co., is added in, its 5,958 loans would
move it to fourth.

Sixth was Doral Financial, San Juan, Puerto Rico, at 4,002 loans, followed
by New Century Mortgage, Irvine, Calif., at 3939; National City Bank of
Cleveland, 3,576; and MortgageIt, N.Y, 3,198.

Countrywide also led in loans to Native Hawaiians, at $1.8 billion in 8,500
loans. Wells made more than $1.2 billion to them in 6,000 loans while
Washington Mutual Bank, Seattle, came in third, at $718 million in 2900
loans.

In all, 20 institutions made more than 1,000 loans each to Native Hawaiians
in 2004.