Some banks have somewhat eased underwriting standards and terms on certain types of residential and commercial loans, according to the Federal Reserve’s most recent senior loan officer survey, but that may not be reason to worry, since bankers responding to the Fed’s survey also reported tightening standards for subprime borrowers.

That’s probably no surprise to anybody who’s listened to enough earnings calls. Recent years have seen more banks chasing fewer borrowers and competing more aggressively for loans, particularly commercial loans.

In its July senior loan officer survey, most domestic respondents reporting eased standards or terms on commercial and industrial (C&I) loans over the prior three months cited more aggressive competition from other banks or non-bank lenders as a major reason for doing so. Smaller numbers of banks cited an increased tolerance for risk or a more favorable or less uncertain economic outlook.

On the flipside, however, those banks reporting tightened terms on C&I loans cited reduced tolerance for risk, worsening of industry-specific problems or a less favorable or more uncertain economic outlook.

The Fed said that “modest net fractions of banks” reported having eased underwriting standards for residential mortgages, with the exception of government-insured and subprime categories. The easing was more pronounced for jumbo mortgages that fit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s QM rules, the Fed said.

The Fed said that “moderate to large to net fractions of banks” reported stronger demand across most categories of home purchase loans.

A few large banks told the Fed they had eased their standards for credit card loans, while standards for auto loans and other types of consumer loans were largely unchanged on net. The Fed said that a moderate net fraction of banks reported stronger demand for auto loans in recent months, and large banks reported stronger demand for credit card loans on balance, while demand for other types of consumer loans was largely unchanged at large banks and stronger at smaller banks.

In this particular survey, the Fed talked to 71 domestic banks and 23 U.S. branches of foreign banks. View the full survey results here.

Fed Senior LO Survey: Some Banks Easing Covenants, Cite Increasing Competition

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 1 min