Smart Borrower Blog

Mortgage Credit Availability Increases in January

Feb 8th, 2017 @ 9:21 PM by Amber Nelson

Mortgage lenders loosened their underwriting standards slightly in January, according to new data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, making it easier for homebuyers to realize their housing dreams.

“Mortgage credit availability increased for the fifth consecutive month in January, driven by increased availability of jumbo loan programs,” said Lynn Fisher, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics.

The MBA’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) rose 1.1 percent to 177.1 in January. The index was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012 and has increased most months for the past five years. An increase in the index indicates that lending standards are loosening, while a decrease points to tighter credit standards among mortgage lenders.

The MCAI is also broken down into four component indexes. The Jumbo MCAI – a measure of credit standards for loans above the federal conforming loan limit – experienced the biggest jump in January, climbing 4.7 percent, while the Conventional MCAI – a measure of non-government loan credit standards – saw an increase of 2.3 percent. The Government MCAI – a measure of federal mortgage (FHA, VA, and USDA) loan standards – inched up just 0.2 percent and the Conforming MCAI – a measure of credit standards on loans that fall under the federal loan limits -slipped down 0.1 percent.

“We saw a particular increase in agency jumbo programs that focus on loans in high cost areas that exceed the baseline conforming loan limit of $424,000 but which are still eligible for purchase by the GSEs,” Fisher added. “While the change in GSE loan limits may have had an indirect impact on the jumbo MCAI, there were other factors at play as several investors rolled out new jumbo loan programs in January.”

Meanwhile, the MBA reported that the number of mortgage applications rose every week but one in January, as more potential homebuyers attempted to get into the market.


About Amber Nelson
Amber Nelson is a seasoned mortgage industry writer and a regular contributor to and

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