As consumers embrace home equity lines of credit as the best way to pare credit card debt, buy automobiles, and finance home improvements, banks that make these loans are reaping the benefits.

The top 50 banks in the business increased lending volume more than 12% last year, to $74.3 billion, according to Sheshunoff Information Services, Austin, Tex. Many of the top 50 lenders in the business increased volume by more than 20%, and some reported growth of 40%, 50%, even 100%. (See table on page 13.)

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