Home Is Where The Debt Is

A loan boom poses problems

Want "a cash reserve for anything you want, whenever you want it," as New York's Dime Savings Bank promises? Or "a real bargain," courtesy of California First? Those are the kinds of advertising claims that are wafting these days around banking's hottest product, the home-equity loan. A boomlet of sorts is under way as customers respond with enthusiasm to this form of consumer debt, while lenders vie frantically for customers and market share. But amid the rush, cautionary voices are warning about the dangers of the popular loans, and the misleading nature of some of the hype. The major worry: that...