WASHINGTON Lenders are feeling more comfortable easing credit standards for commercial and industrial loans, but not as much when it comes to household loans, a Federal Reserve Board report said Monday.
In the Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey, which the Fed releases every three months, banks were asked whether lending standards now are above or below the midpoint level for standards set by an institution during the past eight years.
For loans to businesses, a modest number of larger institutions reported that lending standards had eased on four different kinds of C&I loans: investment-grade syndicated, below-investment-grade syndicated, other loans to large and middle-market firms, and loans to small firms. Standards "were currently at levels that were easier than the midpoints of the ranges that those standards have occupied since 2005," the survey said.
Fifteen large banks or 42% of firms surveyed said that lending standards for loans to investment-grade firms were "near the midpoint of the range that standards have been during this period." Only three firms reported they were at least "somewhat tighter," if not "near the tightest level."
Results were similar for non-syndicated loans to both large and middle-market and small firms. Roughly 38% of firms surveyed said standards were "near the midpoint" for loans to firms with annual sales of $50 million or more, while another 41% of banks in the survey group said standards were "near the midpoint" for loans to small firms with annual sales of less than $50 million.
Roughly 57% of large banks in the group said lending standards were at least "somewhat tighter" for commercial real estate lending.
"A modest to moderate number of U.S. banks reported that the current standards on all types of CRE loans were tighter than the midpoints of the ranges that those standards have occupied since 2005," according to the Fed's survey.
Alternatively, about 41% of those surveyed said lending standards were "near the midpoint" for nonfarm nonresidential lending. Only about 16% said standards for that category of lending were either "somewhat easier" or "significantly easier."
About a third of those surveyed or 31% reported easing of lending standards for multifamily loans.
"Compared with the results in the July 2012 survey, these results for all types of C&I and CRE loans indicate some easing of credit conditions from the levels reported a year ago," according to the Fed's survey.
However, when it came to loans to households, the responses painted a different picture. A majority of banks surveyed reported that lending standards for all six categories of residential mortgages remained at least somewhat tighter than the midpoint level hit since 2005. Those categories include prime conforming mortgages; mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; prime jumbo mortgages; subprime mortgages; nontraditional mortgages; and home equity lines of credit.
For prime residential mortgages, nearly 42% of institutions in the survey group said lending standards had tightened. Over half said that standards remained "near the midpoint" for mortgages that were either guaranteed by the FHA or the VA.
Separately, a modest number of U.S. banks also reported that standards were tighter than the midpoint for prime credit cards, subprime credit cards, auto loans and other consumer loans.
Twenty-eight percent of institutions in the survey group said standards for credit card loans were at least "somewhat tighter," while 25% of U.S. banks said standards were tighter on auto loans.