Mention low-income home buyers and some mortgage lenders point to their Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) programs. But where others see regulators twisting their arms to make loans, Stephanie Smith sees an untapped market which will drive profit growth in the cut-throat industry.

At some point, you are going to tap out the market for white homeowners, says BankAmerica Mortgage s Smith, national manager for community lending. She cites statistics showing that 72 percent of white households own homes, while 43 percent of blacks and 45 percent of Hispanics can say the same. This is a growth market for us.

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