The Mortgage Credit Access Index (MCAI), the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA's) measure of credit availability, rose 1.4 percent in May to a 129.9 reading. An increase in the index indicates a loosening of mortgage underwriting standards.

The Conventional MCAI increased 3.5 percent, while the Government MCAI decreased by 0.3 percent. Of the component indices of the Conventional MCAI, the Jumbo MCAI rose 5.1 percent, and the Conforming MCAI by 1.6 percent.



"Mortgage credit availability in May increased to its highest level since near the start of the pandemic, but still remained at 2014 levels. The increase was driven by a 3 percent gain in the conventional segment of the market, with a rise in the supply of ARMs and cash-out refinances. This is consistent with the uptick in mortgage rates and a slowing refinance market, as well as MBA's Weekly Applications Survey data showing increased interest in ARMs," said Joel Kan, MBA's Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. "The jumbo index jumped 5 percent last month, but even with increases over the past two months, the index is still around half of where it was in February 2020. A rapidly improving economy and job market has freed up jumbo credit, as banks have deposits to utilize. However, there is still plenty of restraint, as many sectors have not fully returned to pre-pandemic capacity, and there are around 2 million borrowers still in forbearance." 

The MCAI and each of its components are 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 a proprietary product from Ellie Mae. The resulting calculations are summary measures which indicate the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time. Base period and values for the total index is March 31, 2012=100; Conventional, March 31, 2012=73.5; Government, March 31, 2012=183.5.