Mortgage credit availability increased slightly in March according to the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) which analyzes data from the AllRegs Market Clarity product. “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,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist.
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. Similar trends have been noted in the National Association of Realtors’ existing home sales data as well. 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 increased 0.44 percent from 113.5 in February to 114.0 in March. A decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening, while increases in the index are indicative of a loosening of credit. The index was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012. If the MCAI had been tracked in 2007, it would have been at a level of roughly 800, indicating the credit was much more available at that time.