The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and AllRegs® has released the second monthly edition of their new Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). The Index, first published by MBA covering May data, indicates that mortgage credit has loosened slightly over the last month. MBA has been tracking data for the index since 2011.

The index for June stood at 109.8 compared to 108.9 in May. A lower index indicates that lending standards are tightening, increasing numbers are a sign that credit is easing. Mortgage credit availability, the Association says, trended relatively lower throughout 2012 and is now at levels close to those seen in 2011.

MBA said that the increase was primarily driven by a small uptick in the number of products offering a cash-out feature. There were also small increases in the number of jumbo, investor, and higher LTV offerings.

The index uses data related to borrower eligibility (credit score, loan type, loan-to-value ratios, etc), underwriting criteria for over 85 lenders and investors, and data from AllRegs Market Clarity® product to construct a summary measure indicating the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time. The baseline level of 100 is based on conditions in March 2012. By way of reference, MBA says if the index had been tracked in 2007 - as subprime and other lending was peaking - the index would have been roughly 800. MBA says that MCAI is the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit.