Banks and thrifts are poised to pick up the pieces now that the leaders in one of the fastest-growing, most controversial consumer finance sectors have hit a wall.

Sovereign Bancorp, First Union Corp., and U.S. Bancorp are among the companies already piloting high-loan-to-value home equity programs. The specialty finance companies that dominate the field have run into a liquidity crunch, but demand from consumers is strong.

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