Now it is a credit crunch by numbers; good zipcodes and bad'uns. Where do you live?

Critics call it the new redlining: Many of the country's largest mortgage lenders are imposing loan restrictions in entire counties or Zip codes that they rank as risky or "declining."

On Jan. 25, Countrywide Bank sent mortgage brokers a list that categorized hundreds of counties as "soft markets" with rankings from 1 to 5, in ascending order of perceived risk. In areas rated 4 and 5 -- roughly 100 counties in metropolitan areas nationwide -- Countrywide said it will now require down payments that are 5 percentage points higher than from most applicants. If a loan program had previously allowed a minimum 5 percent down payment, applicants in these areas will now be required to come up with 10 percent.

An additional 970-plus counties are rated more moderate risks, in categories 1 to 3, with down payment increases of 5 percentage points if an appraisal report indicates there is an "oversupply" of houses for sale or a marketing time of more than six months.

Other national lenders have distributed their own proprietary "declining markets" lists. GMAC-ResCap, based in Minneapolis, even has a Web site where loan officers can type in a Zip code to learn how risky the company ranks the area. The general public is not supposed to see the site, but a mortgage company executive provided me with access.

In late January, a Zip code for McLean -- a high-income, high-cost residential community and home of mortgage investment giant Freddie Mac -- was rated D, or high-risk, on the Web site. The upscale residential neighborhood in Northwest Washington where Fannie Mae, another mortgage investor, has its headquarters was rated at an elevated risk of C.