Lenders should be forced to tell the government how much interest they charge on home mortgages, community activists said Tuesday.

John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, said mandatory disclosure of interest rates would help community groups and regulators identify predatory lending targeted at minority and low-income borrowers.

The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act requires lenders to report the race and gender of borrowers, but not pricing data.

Interest rate data could also help regulators tighten Community Reinvestment Act enforcement, Mr. Taylor said. Though 98% of banks and thrifts earned "satisfactory" or "outstanding" CRA grades, statistics show that minority loan applicants typically have less access to mortgage credit-and pay more for it-than whites do, he said.

"A significantly higher percentage of lenders should fail their CRA exams," said Gene Ortega, chairman of the group's home education program.

The coalition's recommendations were included in a report on the "best and worst" lenders in the 20 largest metropolitan areas. To rank lenders, the coalition looked at the share of loan applications, approvals, and denials for minorities and low-to-moderate-income families.

In the New York area, for example, the study ranked Chase Manhattan Bank 15th best out of 44 major lenders, while Dime Savings Bank came in 34th.

The study found that in seven metropolitan areas last year, the proportion of mortgages issued to blacks and Hispanics exceeded their percentages in the local population.

But in eight metropolitan areas, denial rates for minority applicants rose, while those for whites either fell or remained steady.

The group also questioned the types of mortgages minorities were obtaining. Blacks seeking mortgages were twice as likely as whites to apply for subprime loans in 1997, the study found.

Still, the group said a lack of data on interest rates, fees, and creditworthiness made it impossible to conclude if lenders discriminate.

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