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Mortgage Lenders Tighten Purse Strings

Mortgage Credit Availability Index off in September

Oct. 8, 2013

By Mortgage Daily staff

For the second month in a row, residential lenders have been more restrictive in their mortgage lending practices. But the changes are minimal compared to changes from pre-crisis levels.

The latest assessment was based on the Mortgage Credit Availability Index, a standardized quantitative index that is focuses only on mortgage credit.

The index is determined based on factors related to borrower eligibility such as credit scores, loan types and loan-to-value ratios.

The Mortgage Bankers Association published the index based on data from the AllRegs' Market Clarity product -- which reflects metrics and underwriting criteria for over 85 lenders or investors.

In September, the index was 110.74, off from 111.50 in August, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported.

Still, the index was higher than it was in August 2012, when it stood just under 100.

To keep things in perspective, the latest movement was miniscule compared to how much credit availability has plummeted since 2007 -- when the index would have been around 800 based on previous statements from MBA.

Last month's decline was driven by a drop in the availability of loans that have loan terms in excess of 30 years.

"We believe this reflects lenders implementation of the Ability to Repay/Qualified Mortgage regulation which comes fully into effect in January," MBA Vice President of Research and Economics Mike Fratantoni said in a statement. "Offsetting this tightening has been some increased willingness to offer higher LTV loans, particularly to jumbo borrowers."

The base period for the index is March 31, 2012, when the value was 100.

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