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Indian-owned bank cracks top 10 in Indian mortgages

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WASHINGTON – Home Mortgage Disclosure Act numbers for 2009 show that mortgages to both Native Americans and Native Hawaiians increased, for the first time in several years. And for the first time, an American Indian-owned bank was on the leader board for mortgages to Indian people.

Bank2, owned by the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and based in Oklahoma City, made $123 million in mortgages to Indians last year, coming in ninth in the country. It also made $18 million in mortgages to Native Hawaiians, bringing its Native total to $141 million.

Impressively, that $141 million in mortgages came out of a total loan volume of $161 million, meaning more than 80 percent of its mortgage lending went to Native people last year. And it was a huge increase over 2008, when it loaned $24.6 million in mortgages to Indians, ranking it in the top 50.

According to data they filed with the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, a unit of the Federal Reserve, the nation’s mortgage lenders made $9.3 billion in loans to Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders last year, and $9.2 billion to American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The numbers for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (natives of Guam and American Samoa) were up slightly from $9 billion in 2008. Native American mortgage volume increased by about $500 million, from $8.6 billion in 2008.

Two lenders dominated mortgages to Native people last year. Bank of America, aided by its acquisition of Countrywide Financial (Countrywide was the traditional leader in lending to minorities) was first, and Wells Fargo Bank was second.

B of A was first in lending to Native Hawaiians ($1.8 billion to Wells’ $1.6 billion) and Native Americans ($2.4 billion to Wells’ $1.7 billion). The two made more than one-third of all mortgages to Native people last year.

In addition to Bank2, several other Oklahoma lenders made the top 50 in mortgages to Indians. They include American Southwest Mortgage Co., Oklahoma City, First Mortgage Co., Oklahoma City, Bank of Oklahoma, Mortgage Clearing Corp., Tulsa, Bank of Oklahoma, Tulsa, Gateway Mortgage, Tulsa, and several others.

For Indian people especially, 2009 was a recovery from enormous dropoffs in mortgages in the past couple of years with the end of the mortgage boom. Mortgages to them fell by two-thirds after the record $53 billion year of 2006.

The big volumes minority populations saw during the mortgage boom had to do with a two-edged sword: After years of being ignored by lenders, they were finally targeted for mortgages – but by subprime lenders that were often predators.

Units of Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank totaled the top four lenders to American Indians last year, completely dominating the category. Number five was Chase, at $362 million. Number six, USAA Federal Savings Bank, San Antonio, had less than half of Chase’s volume, at $153 million. A total of 11 lenders made more than $100 million in mortgages to American Indians last year, and a total of 2,865 lenders made at least one mortgage to a Native person last year.

B of A and Wells totaled four of the top six lenders to Native Hawaiians last year. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and Wells Fargo Finance were second and third, while B of A and Countrywide were first and sixth.

B of A’s lending to American Indians was flat to 2008, while Wells saw a decrease compared to last year, to about $1.3 billion in 2008.

Fourth was Taylor, Bean and Whitaker, Ocala, Fl., a mortgage banker that failed last year. It showed Native Hawaiian volume of more than $500 million. Fifth was Chase, with $469 million. No other lender made more than $200 million in loans to Native Hawaiians last year, according to the HMDA data.

Eleven lenders made more than $100 million in mortgages to Native Hawaiians last year. A total of 2,177 lenders made mortgages to Native Hawaiians last year.