Access to jumbo mortgage loans rebounded from a loss in February to drive the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA’s) Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) higher in March. The MCAI increased by 3.2 percent, rising from a 177.8 reading to 183.4.
The MCAI analyzes data from Ellie Mae’s AllRegs® business information tool to show relative credit risk/availability overall and for four loan types, conventional, conforming, government (VA/FHA) and jumbo. The composite index was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012.
The Jumbo MCAI, which had fallen 4.4 percent the previous month due to consolidation of some jumbo loan programs, jumped 11.7 percent in March. The Conventional MCAI rose 4.5 percent and the government index gained 2.3 percent. Those increases were partially offset by a 2.6 percent decline in the Conforming MCAI.
“Credit availability increased in March driven by increased availability of Jumbo loan programs and Government loan programs,” said Lynn Fisher, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics. “Led by a wave of adjustable rate Jumbo offerings, the Jumbo MCAI surged in March, more than offsetting its 4.4% decline in February, which was the first tightening of the that component index in 11 months. Increases observed in the Government MCAI were driven by increased availability of FHA’s Streamline Refinance and 203 K home rehabilitation loan programs.”
The MCAI is calculated using several factors related to borrower eligibility (credit score, loan type, loan-to-value ratio, etc.) provided by over 95 lenders/investors. 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.