Mortgage Credit Availability Index

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Mortgage Credit Availability Increases in September

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 6, 2016) - Mortgage credit availability increased in September 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 1.4 percent to 167.0 in September.  A decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening, while increases in the index are indicative of loosening credit.  The index was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012. Of the four component indices, the Government MCAI saw the greatest increase in availability over the month (up 1.9 percent), followed by the Conventional MCAI (up 0.7 percent), the Conforming MCAI (up 0.7 percent), and the Jumbo MCAI (up 0.6 percent).

"The increase in credit availability in September was driven by more investors offering streamlined refinance programs to borrowers with USDA and FHA loans." said Lynn Fisher, MBA's Vice President of Research and Economics. "Streamline programs allow borrowers who have been consistently making their mortgage payments and meet other eligibility requirements, to refinance their existing mortgage into a lower interest rate with reduced documentation requirements. While these programs accounted for most of the increase, we also observed investors continuing their rollout of the new Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac low down payment (97 LTV) loan programs, and some increased availability of jumbo loans."


Higher Index=More Credit Available
Lower Index=Less Credit Available

Source: Mortgage Bankers Association; Powered by Ellie Mae's AllRegs® Market Clarity®

Of the four component indices, the Conforming MCAI saw the greatest decrease in availability over the month (down 0.9 percent), followed by the Government MCAI (down 0.5 percent), and the Conventional MCAI (down 0.2 percent). The Jumbo MCAI increased 0.5 percent from last month.


Source: Mortgage Bankers Association; Powered by Ellie Mae's AllRegs® Market Clarity®

The Conventional, Government, Conforming, and Jumbo MCAIs are constructed using the same methodology as the Total MCAI and are designed to show relative credit risk/availability for their respective index. The primary difference between the total MCAI and the Component Indices are the population of loan programs which they examine. The Government MCAI examines FHA/VA/USDA loan programs, while the Conventional MCAI examines non-government loan programs. The Jumbo and Conforming MCAIs are a subset of the conventional MCAI and do not include FHA, VA, or USDA loan offerings. The Jumbo MCAI examines conventional programs outside conforming loan limits while the Conforming MCAI examines conventional loan programs that fall under conforming loan limits.

The Conforming and Jumbo indices have the same "base levels" as the Total MCAI (March 2012=100), while the Conventional and Government indices have adjusted "base levels" in March 2012. MBA calibrated the Conventional and Government indices to better represent where each index might fall in March 2012 (the "base period") relative to the Total=100 benchmark.                                                 

The Total MCAI has an expanded historical series which gives perspective on credit availability going back approximately 10-years (expanded historical series does not include Conventional, Government, Conforming, or Jumbo MCAI).  The expanded historical series covers 2004 through 2010, and was created to provide historical context to the current series by showing how credit availability has changed over the last 10 years - this includes the housing crisis and ensuing recession.  Data prior to March 31, 2011, was generated using less frequent and less complete data measured at 6-month intervals and interpolated in the months between for charting purposes. Methodology on the expanded historical series from 2004 to 2010 has not been updated.  


Source: Mortgage Bankers Association; Powered by Ellie Mae's AllRegs® Market Clarity®
Data prior to 3/31/2011 was generated using less frequent and less complete data measured at 6-month intervals interpolated in the months between for charting purposes.

The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. 

The MCAI is calculated using several factors related to borrower eligibility (credit score, loan type, loan-to-value ratio, etc.).  These metrics and underwriting criteria for over 95 lenders/investors are combined by MBA using data made available via the AllRegs® Market Clarity® product and a proprietary formula derived by MBA to calculate the MCAI, a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.  Base period and values for total index is March 31, 2012=100; Conventional March 31, 2012=73.5; Government March 31, 2012=183.5.

The MBA updated its methodology in August 2016 which produced an updated set of index values (historically and moving forward), for more information on this updated methodology please visit and read the FAQ and Methodology documents. Any historical data obtained prior to August 2016 is not comparable to the current, revised index and should be replaced with the new history.

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