Credit access hasn't improved much over the last year unless one is shopping for a jumbo mortgage loan.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) noted an 0.7 percent increase in its Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) in September, bringing it to 181.4. The increase came from agency jumbo programs that have been phased in over the past few months and continuing updates to conforming loan programs.

A decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening, while increases are indicative of easing credit.  Of the four component indices, the Conforming MCAI and the Conventional MCAI saw the greatest increase in availability over the month (both up 1.5 percent), followed by the Jumbo MCAI (up 1.4 percent) and then the Government MCAI (up 0.2 percent).

MBA's Vice President of Research and Economics Lynn Fisher said that so far in 2017 the supply of credit has expanded significantly among jumbo loan programs, while increasing only modestly among other loan programs.  The Jumbo MCAI, which was benchmarked at 100 in March 2012, now stands at about 250.

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 several proprietary products to arrive at a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.  Base period and values for total index is March 31, 2012=100.