U.S. credit unions experienced a dip in year-over-year loan growth in the first quarter, while annual lending growth among banks and thrifts increased for the second consecutive quarter.
Credit unions grew total loans to $982.52 billion at March 31, an S&P Global Market Intelligence study found. That marked a 9.7% year-over-year rise from the first quarter of 2017. Comparatively, the year-over-year growth rate was 10.7% a year ago. The 2018 first-quarter growth was mainly driven by vehicle loans and closed-end first-lien one- to four-family loans.
For U.S. banks and thrifts, aggregate loans grew to $9.752 trillion. That represented year-over-year loan growth of 4.9%, up from 4.0% in the 2017 first quarter. Growth was spread across loan types, including $168.91 billion in real estate, $91.73 billion in commercial and industrial and $89.37 billion in consumer.
Some lenders, like Pacific Crest Savings Bank, are outpacing industry trends. The Lynnwood, Wash.-based community bank had $228.9 million in assets and total loans of $181.8 million at the end of the first quarter, representing annual loan growth of 17.1%. Scott Gibson, senior vice president and lending manager, expressed optimism about the bank's residential spec construction lending and said Pacific Crest is experiencing swift sales at or above the listed price once spec builders have listed the finished homes. He pointed to high demand in the price ranges and locations — King and Snohomish counties — where the bank typically finances starter or move-up homes.
"Although the housing market is showing signs of slowing — more inventory, more days on the market — I believe that 2018 and 2019 will continue to be strong years for housing in the core areas nearest employment centers," Gibson said.
Lenders in other parts of the country point to a lack of inventory impeding mortgage lending. Fremont, Mich.-based Gerber FCU had $150.2 million in assets and total loans of $75.0 million at March 31, representing year-over-year loan growth of 4.7%. President and CEO John Buckley Jr. said mortgage loans are hurt by the lack of inventory in Gerber's rural west Michigan market. But Buckley said home equity lending has been steady even as interest rates have risen. He also pointed to strong demand for all types of auto loans: The credit union grew its auto loan book more than 30% year over year.
On the deposit side of the balance sheet, credit unions reported a 5.6% year-over-year increase to $1.218 trillion, bringing the industry's loan-to-deposit ratio to 80.65% at March 31, up from 77.64% a year earlier. Money market deposit accounts and other savings deposits increased by $35.76 billion over the year to $717.50 billion.
Bank and thrift deposits climbed 3.4% year over year, boosted by a $265.60 billion increase in money market deposit accounts and other savings deposits that resulted in an aggregate loan-to-deposit ratio of 72.09%.
For Pacific Crest, deposits totaled $181.2 million at March 31. That represented year-over-year growth of 10.4%. Kevin Hogan, senior vice president of client services for the bank, said he is seeing evidence of changing customer attitudes in the wake of recent Federal Reserve rate hikes.
Since money market rates broke the 1% threshold, "consumers are now more engaged and likely to rate shop in search for the best yield, compared to what has been apathy and little interest in chasing no-interest returns," he said.
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Commercial banks, savings banks and savings & loan associations report deposit information on Call Report Schedule RC-E and loan information on Call Report Schedule RC-C. These schedules can be accessed under the Regulatory Financials section of a company's Briefing Book page on the MI web platform or in MI Office.