Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association
explained the slightly lower Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) for
April as the result of countervailing trends. "On one hand, credit
continues to be more available to jumbo borrowers, particularly those seeking
adjustable rate mortgages," he said "and we are beginning to see some loosening
within conventional and FHA programs for conforming loans. On the other
hand, some investors shut down or tightened criteria for certain programs."
The MCAI for the month was at 113.8 compared to
114.0 in March, a decrease of 0.18 percent. A decline in the MCAI indicates
that lending standards are tightening, while increases in the index are
indicative of a loosening of credit.
The MCAI is calculated using several factors related to borrower eligibility
(credit score, loan type, loan-to-value ratio, etc.). Data is collected from over 85
lenders/investors and combined with data from AllRegs® Market Clarity® product
and a proprietary formula derived by MBA to create a summary measure indicated
mortgage credit availability at a point in time. The index was benchmarked to 100 in March
This month MBA announced that MCAI now has an
expanded historical series covering 2004 through 2010. The new series was created to show how credit
availability has changed over the last 10 years, a period which includes the
housing crisis and subsequent recession.
Fratantoni said, "This expanded time series goes back an additional
seven years and provides information on credit availability in pre-recessionary
periods. It is particularly important with these data to distinguish
between pre-recessionary periods and what might be considered 'normal.'
Given the new regulatory environment, there is no guarantee we will return to
Data prior to March 31, 2011, was generated using less frequent and less
complete data measured at 6-month intervals and extrapolated in the months
between for charting purposes.