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June 2023

The History of National Bank Real Estate Lending: Part I (1863-1980)

This publication is part of:

Collection: Moments in History


The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has supervised national banks since 1863. This article describes the history of national bank participation in the market for real estate-secured lending. The article also describes how the OCC's and legislative thinking on real estate lending has evolved. We divide the 160 years of the OCC's history as the chartering authority for national banks into three intervals: 1863 to 1914, 1915 to 1980, and 1981 to 2022. Part 1 of this two-part series focuses on the first two intervals, a period of just under 120 years, when the system of national banks evolved from having no authority to lend against real estate to becoming a major participant in the real estate-secured lending market.


Roger Tufts and Bianca Werner