Thrifts should not be required to disclose high-loan-to-value lending data in quarterly financial reports, America's Community Bankers has told government regulators.

The group said similar, though not as detailed, information about these loans is already reported quarterly to a thrift's board of directors. If regulators want to examine an institution's exposure, they can simply look at those board reports, the trade association said.

"Why can't they try that first?" said Gary Gilbert, a regulatory specialist at the trade group. "We're not saying that down the road, they should absolutely never ask for this."

On Sept. 1, the Office of Thrift Supervision proposed a requirement for more reporting on high-LTV loans - increasingly popular vehicles in which homeowners borrow amounts near or greater than the value of their homes. In August, the agency warned that high-LTV lending was riskier than other types of consumer credit because it typically has higher dollar amounts and longer repayment terms.

Though high-LTV loans are often used to consolidate credit card debt, the OTS said 70% of borrowers are carrying credit card balances within a year.

Both sides agree that few thrifts - roughly 20, according to the OTS - now engage in large amounts of high-LTV lending, but the agency is concerned that it is becoming more widespread.

Disclosure of LTV lending on quarterly thrift financial reports would be more difficult to compile than the data currently collected, ACB said in a comment letter to the agency. It would also be a burden on the vast majority of thrifts that do not make a lot of high-LTV loans, Mr. Gilbert said.

"It isn't just a matter of those who actively reported a high number, it's another line item where most (thrifts) have to go through a lot of hoops just to prove that they don't," he said.

Mr. Gilbert also said it was simply a bad time to fiddle with the quarterly reports, because so many thrifts were gearing up to pass year- 2000 compliance tests.

Comments on the proposed changes, which would take effect March 31, were due Monday.

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