Little Mortgage Lending in Any of SD Reservation-Only Counties

Mark Fogarty

It’s not just Oglala Lakota County in South Dakota that suffered from a lack of home loans during 2014. The other four counties in South Dakota that, like Oglala Lakota, are entirely within the boundaries of American Indian reservations were equally mortgage deserts last year.

While American Indians represented a big majority of people living in these counties, significant amounts of lending went to white people there, federal data show.

Corson County, on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation, saw just four mortgages made on it in 2014. Dewey County, located mostly in the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe reservation, with a small portion in Standing Rock, had 11. Ziebach County, also within the CRST with a small portion in Standing Rock, had five. Todd County, on the Rosebud Sioux reservation, saw nine mortgages made. Around 20,000 people live in these four counties.

The 29 mortgages made in these four reservation counties represented just $2.5 million in finance. Another $327,000 came from sales of these loans into the mortgage secondary market. The data was collected under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and analyzed by, a software developed by the McLean, Virginia-based ComplianceTech.

Less than a half million dollars of mortgage finance was extended or invested on Oglala Lakota County through 29 loans last year, as previously reported. That makes the total for the five reservation-only counties about $3.3 million in loans and investments, or about an average of $600,000 for each county. None of the five counties had as much as $1 million in home loan finance last year.

RELATED: Not Much Mortgage Lending in Oglala Lakota County

Todd County had the highest dollar volume, at $990,000, through $938,000 in loans and $52,000 in secondary sales. BankWest, formerly Pierre National Bank, was the biggest lender there, at $467,000, while Farmers & Merchants had $240,000 and Wells Fargo $227,000.

Dewey County followed, with $795,000 made through 11 mortgages. BankWest was the leading lender there, as well, with $535,000 in finance. It was followed by Dacotah Bank with $155,000 and Wells Fargo at $105,000.

Ziebach County saw $556,000 in mortgage finance originated, plus another $194,000 through the secondary market. BankWest made $439,000 of them, Wells did $206,000, and JP Morgan Chase $105,000.

In Corson County, conventional (non-government) lending took the lead, at $168,000. The rest of the finance, $158,000, came through government products insured by the Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Unlike Shannon County, there were no home improvement loans, only loans to purchase or refinance a house. The average first-lien mortgage was $61,250, while for other liens it was $40,500. Nearly half of the financing went to manufactured housing. A third of lending went to whites, in line with their 37 percent share of the population.

In Dewey County, a higher percentage, 73.3 percent, went to whites despite them having only about a 25 percent share of the population. Non-governmental mortgages led, followed by those insured by the VA. Half the money went to purchasing homes, while the rest was divided between refinancings and home improvement. The average first lien mortgage there was $86,000.

In Todd County, American Indian borrowers (25 percent) edged out white borrowers (24 percent, but just barely. (The rest was ascribed to “unknown” “multi-race” and “not available.”) Indians make up about 85 percent of the county’s population. FHA lending was the biggest governmental financing at 20 percent, while conventional led at 80 percent. Two thirds of the money went to purchase finance, with the rest divided between home improvement and refinances. Average loan amount was $113,500 for first liens and $41,000 for other liens. Manufactured housing made up about a third of the lending in Todd County.

Nearly half the borrowers in Ziebach County were white, the LendingPatterns data show. Just a little over a quarter went to Native Americans, who represent nearly three quarters of the people living there. In this county, government lending predominated. In addition to FHA there was a significant amount of lending backed by the Farm Service Agency and the Rural Housing Service. Average loan amount on a first lien was $111,200 and on other liens $97,000. Manufactured housing made up 40 percent of loans.

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