Affinity lending alliances are picking up speed, as three developing deals illustrate.

The American Bar Association is looking for a lender to originate home loans for some members.

The bar association's request for proposals went out to more than 10 lenders on Halloween, and the proposals are due back this week.

The affinity lending program will not be geared toward all of the group's 385,000 members, said Paula B. Cleave, director of member benefits. She said the association wanted instead to provide a benefit to its young members and those who work at smaller firms.

"The partner at Baker & McKenzie does not need our help" getting a loan, she said, referring to one of the world's largest law firms.

Ms. Cleave said the program will target about 150,000 of the association' s members.

She said the trade group asked its members in a July survey what benefits they would like, and many indicated financial services.

The group already maintains benefit relationships with, among others, Hertz, UPS, and MCI.

The bar association will choose a lender within a few weeks, Ms. Cleave said. She said she hopes to unveil the program to members by late .spring when they must pay their annual dues.

"We would like to make sure membership is as attractive as possible," she said.

MCI Telecommunications has completed its long search for a home lender to make mortgages for its relocating employees.

This week the Washington, D.C.-based giant selected three lenders to split its account.

A company spokesman declined to identify the lenders. He said it would "not be prudent" for the company.

Winners are now being notified, he said.

An industry source said MCI has retained its previous lenders: Prudential Home Mortgage Co., Clayton, Mo.; Norwest Mortgage Inc., Des Moines; and Citicorp, New York. Most of the loans will be originated by Prudential, the source said.

MCI has more than 40,000 employees. It would not reveal the number of relocations it does per year.

The source said MCI does 1,000 relocations a year. Of those, 50o7o to 60*7o use the company's lending program, the source said.

The MCI spokesman said the average loan size for MCI employee relocations is $160,000 to $170,000, with a 10% down payment. The homes cost $190,000 on average.

Industry sources say MCI was extremely slow to decide on a lender.

The City of New Haven, Conn, will begin searching for an affinity lender next month.

The municipality wants to encourage its employees to live within the city, said Stefan I. Pryor, policy adviser to the mayor of New Haven, John DeStefano.

Currently, half of New Haven' s work force lives outside the city, Mr. Pryor said. About 5,500 people work for the city.

Mr. Pryor said a request for proposals, which is currently being drafted, will go out to home lenders in December. He said the city is looking to create a program modeled after one in Seattle.

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