Mortgage Credit Availability Increases in March

Mortgage credit availability increased in March according to the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) which analyzes data from Ellie Mae’s AllRegs Market Clarity business information tool.

The MCAI increased 2.3 percent to 121.4 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.

“A number of factors contributed to a loosening of credit in March: Freddie Mac’s introduction of their 97 LTV program (Fannie Mae’s was implemented in December), additional loosening of parameters on jumbo loan programs, an increase in offerings of cash-out refinance loans, and continued expansion of the FHA streamline refinance and VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) programs,” according to Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Chief Economist. “As a result of these changes, all four component indexes of the MCAI increased last month: jumbo, conforming, conventional, and government. Although credit remains tight by historical standards, this increase in availability, coupled with low rates and job market strength, should lead to stronger home purchase activity this spring.”

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