The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) noted this morning that mortgage credit was slightly more available in March than it was in February.  The Association's Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) rose to 114.00 from 113.5 in February.  Higher index values indicate higher credit availability or looser guidelines.

Mike Fratantoni, MBA's Chief Economists said, "Consistent with past months, many lenders and investors are providing borrowers seeking higher loan amounts with a broader range of financing options by introducing new jumbo loan programs.  Over the month, some lenders made a complete exit from wholesale lending operations, while other lenders moved to enter that space or expanded operations."

MBA said the trend of increased availability for jumbo loan programs is consistent with behavior MBA has been monitoring in its Weekly Applications Survey which shows growth in purchase volume for applications with higher loan amounts and contraction in home purchase application volume for lower-balance loans. The association noted that similar trends have been seen in the National Association of Realtors' (NAR) existing home sales data as well and that lenders are likely moving to create a broader range of jumbo products in order to capture the increasing demand for such financing in the market.

The MCAI was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012.  MBA said that had the MCAI been tracked in 2007, it would have been at a level of roughly 800, indicating the credit was much more available at that time.  MBA produces the index using data from the AllRegs® Market Clarity® product.