Home equity lending is legal in Texas, but officials are still hammering out the details.

And until the state Legislature meets again in January 1999, lenders will have to rely on recently drafted guidelines that may never become law.

Leslie L. Pettijohn, the state's commissioner of consumer credit, has drafted the guidelines with the help of bank, thrift, and credit union commissioners. "We're trying to provide lenders and borrowers a more level understanding of what is expected from an enforcement standpoint," Ms. Pettijohn said.

The guidelines, which are subject to approval of the Legislature in 1999, include:

Clarification of the amount lenders may charge to make these loans.

The law passed in a November referendum does not allow lenders to charge more than 3 points in fees. Ms. Pettijohn's draft amendment would allow lenders more leeway.

"Charges that would constitute interest under the law, including for example discount points and late charges, are not fees subject to the 3- point limit," the draft reads.

An explanation of licensing requirements. Mortgage brokers need not be licensed to make home equity loans at less than 10% interest. Also, banks chartered in other states may not need to obtain a Texas lending license, the draft says, citing the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980.

Lenders are applauding Ms. Pettijohn's interpretation. "She's done a good job of publishing an interpretation that is fair to all parties," said a spokesman for Associates First Capital Corp., Dallas.

Several lenders are already gearing up to make home equity loans in Texas, although they cannot do so until Jan. 1. Many are enlisting sports figures to help them sell their loans.

FirstPlus Financial Corp. announced Monday that it was starting a statewide direct mail and television advertising campaign. The campaign will feature veteran Dallas Cowboy Bill Bates, a previous participant in the company's celebrity golf tournaments.

And Beneficial Financial is filming commercials starring boxer George Foreman.

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