Search The Wall Street Journal’s database to see which lenders in your neighborhood are lending more — or less.

Across the country, thousands of banks and credit unions are bucking the dominant just-say-no mentality when it comes to consumer lending. In the wake of the financial crisis that saddled banks with huge losses, the largest 10% of banks by assets shrank their consumer lending by 4.7% last year, tightening the spigot on loans that aren’t backed by the government. At many smaller banks and credit unions, though, cash continued to flow, with consumer loans rising 3% at financial institutions that fall in the bottom 50% of the industry in assets.

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Where to Find the Money
Despite a Contraction in Consumer Loans, Some Banks Are Rolling Out the Dough

Some bankers still say yes.That is hard to believe considering the drought in lending. U.S. banks posted a 7.5% decline in 2009 in total loans outstanding, the steepest percentage drop since 1942, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Consumer lending fell by 3.8% as roughly 7,200 banks and credit unions pulled back on mortgages, credit cards and other loans, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal.So it was no surprise that Michael Hollomon, a 42-year-old commodities trader who just moved back to the U.S., had two recent mortgage applications rejected last year. On paper, he is the type of borrower that went out of style when the housing bubble burst: no job and no salary.But Mr. Hollomon’s luck changed last June at Bank of Princeton in New Jersey. After reviewing Mr. Hollomon’s generous severance agreement and references, the three-year-old bank gave him a loan of $1.95 million for his $2.6 million Princeton home. The mortgage, which has a 6.25% interest rate, requires a balloon payment after five years. Bank of Princeton charged into the market for "jumbo" loans last year, tripling its consumer lending to $45.8 million after big rivals headed for the exits. "Pretty much everything we are getting is from people who have tried to go to a larger institution," says Martin Melilli, the bank’s president.
By Ruth Simon and Maurice Tamman, March13, 2010 WSJ

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