Affinity lending, once a backwater of the mortgage industry, is rapidly coming of age as some of the nation's largest banks jump into the business with the commitment - and the capital - to make it grow.

The newest entrants are Chemical Residential Mortgage Corp., Citicorp Mortgage Inc., and Shawmut Mortgage Co. They each have taken steps to form units that market mortgages to members of trade and professional groups, industry sources said.

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