WASHINGTON -- The Federal Reserve Board has porposed requiring lenders to use updated population data when they disclose information on their home mortgage lending patterns.

The switch could be costly for financial institutions, which are required by the home Mortgage Disclosure Act to gather data on home loan originations and purchases.

For instance, many would have to overhaul computer systems that now produce the required information automatically, the Fed noted.

The proposal would direct lenders to break down mortgage lending information into 1990 census tracts. The data - which banks, thrifts, credit unions, and some large mortgage banking firms assemble into detailed registers and distribute to the public - currently have to be grouped according to 1980 census tracts.

The change would improve the accuracy and usefulness of the mortgage lending information, the Fed said. It wants the new rule in place Jan. 1.

The Fed is accepting comments on the proposal until Oct. 23, and specifically requested views on whether the switch would be too burdensome.

In addition, the Fed is seeking to clarify that lenders who do not obey mortgage disclosure rules may face fines. It also proposed several technical changes mandates by the 1989 thrift-bailout law, which expanded the public reporting requirements of the 1975 mortgage disclosure law.

-- Debra Cope

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