Mortgage credit availability decreased slightly in April, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports.

The MBA’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index report showed the index decreased 0.18% from 114.0 in March to 113.8 in April. 

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.

“There continues to be countervailing trends in the data. On one hand, credit continues to be more available to jumbo borrowers, particularly those seeking adjustable rate mortgages, and we are beginning to see some loosening within conventional and FHA programs for conforming loans. On the other hand, some investors shut down or tightened criteria for certain programs,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist.

The MCAI now also has an expanded historical series which gives perspective on credit availability going back 10 years.

“We are pleased to highlight new historical data this month which provides greater context into mortgage credit availability,” said Fratantoni. “This expanded time series goes back an additional seven years and provides information on credit availability in pre-recessionary periods. It is particularly important with these data to distinguish between pre-recessionary periods and what might be considered ’normal.’ Given the new regulatory environment, there is no guarantee we will return to those levels.”

The expanded historical series, which covers 2004 through 2010, 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 extrapolated in the months between for charting purposes.

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