Mortgage lending standards have tightened since the housing bubble brought down the financial system a decade ago.
While homeownership has fallen, home prices have jumped back to pre-crisis levels, suggesting the cost and requirements for getting a mortgage are holding back many would-be buyers.
Brian Moynihan, Bank of America's CEO, told CNBC on Thursday that eased regulations including a lower down payment could make it easier for millennials, in their household-formation years, to buy homes.
"Our goal, going back to regulatory reform, is should you move the down-payment requirement from 20% to 10?" Moynihan told CNBC's Kelly Evans. "It wouldn't introduce that much risk but would actually help a lot of mortgages get done."
Evans asked Moynihan about mortgages in the context of the widely shared comments from the Australian tycoon Tim Gurner suggesting millennials should stop spending on avocado toast if they want to afford homes.
Moynihan, who said he shared the article with his son, added:
"I think at the end of the day, people forget that at different points in your life and different points on what you're doing in life requires you to think about housing differently as a place for you and your friends, as a place for you and maybe your significant other, and then, ultimately, a place for family. That drives change. And so yes, it's taken more time. And we talked a lot about this, you know, four or five years ago, that if you require a 20% down payment, it takes just a little more time to accumulate 20% than it would 3% or none, which is what the rules were for a short period of time."
Leading up to the recession, some lenders lowered the 20% down-payment standard or required no down payment at all.
Lenders' scars from the housing crisis have now made them cautious of whom they approve. In the first quarter, the median credit score of a new mortgage was 764, the highest in nearly two years and up from the prerecession average of 720, according to Gluskin Sheff.
According to Moynihan, there's still wiggle room to ease regulations.
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