Regulators must apply the Community Reinvestment Act more consistently, said Julie L. Williams, acting comptroller of the currency.
She said a recent review found that OCC examiners give more emphasis to a bank's overall lending, while the other agencies take a city-by-city approach to rating CRA compliance.
"Identifying inconsistency is the first step toward reducing it," she told the National Housing Conference on Tuesday. "And that is exactly what we will be doing in the coming months."
Ms. Williams also touted the quality of subprime securitized mortgages, noting that a recent $750 million offering by two banks was significantly oversubscribed.
Affordable housing loans are generally smaller and have higher loan-to- value ratios than conventional loans, she said. This means borrowers are less likely to refinance, which makes the securities more valuable.
"Purchasers of affordable mortgage-backed securities have reason to expect a steady, reliable income stream for the original life of the loan," she said.