Credit available was apparently slightly lower in January
than in February, the third straight month that the Mortgage Bankers
Associations' (MBA's) measure of that access has declined. The MBA said its
Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) decreased by 0.4 percent to 123.8 in
January. A decline in the index
indicates that lending standards are tightening, while increases are indicative
of loosening credit.
The Index, which was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012,
peaked at a post crisis high of 128.4 in October of last year and have dropped
every month since although the December change was attributed largely to technical
reasons. Two of the four component indices were also lower this month; the
Conforming MCAI was down 1.5 percent and the Government MCAI dipped 0.8
percent. The Conventional MCAI was
unchanged while the Jumbo index increased 0.2 percent from December.
Lynn Fisher, MBA's Vice
President of Research and Economics explained that the lower index reading was
driven by a decline in some FHA and conventional offerings. "These declines in the MCAI were only
partially offset by loosening among adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) and jumbo
lending programs," he said.
The MCAI is calculated
using several factors related to borrower eligibility (credit score, loan type,
loan-to-value ratio, etc.). These metrics and underwriting criteria for over 95
lenders/investors are combined by MBA using data made available via Ellie Mae's AllRegs® Market Clarity®
product and a proprietary formula derived by MBA to calculate the MCAI, a
summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point
in time. The Conventional, Government, Conforming, and Jumbo MCAIs are
constructed using the same methodology as the Total MCAI and are designed to
show relative credit risk/availability for their respective index. Base period
and values for total index is March 31, 2012=100; Conventional March 31,
2012=69; Government March 31, 2012=222.