At 11.97%, the composite National Mortgage Risk Index for Agency purchase loans, compiled by the AEI’s International Center on Housing Risk, hit a series high in January, up 0.4 percentage point from the average for the prior three months and 0.8 percentage point from a year earlier.

Within the composite, the risk indices for Fannie Mae, Federal Housing Administration, and VA also hit series highs. The addition of about 182,000 loans brings the total in the NMRI to 5.5 million.

The increase in January was the fifth straight monthly increase in the composite NMRI.

The Federal Housing Administration’s NMRI stood at a series high of 24.41%, up 0.2 percentage point from the average for the prior three months and 1.5 percentage points from a year earlier.

AEI also found that QM regulation is not reducing the volume of high DTI loans: over the past 3 months, 24% of loans had total DTI > 43%, up 2 percentage points from the share in 2013.

“FHA is not compensating for the riskiness of high DTI loans; Fannie and Freddie are compensating only to a limited extent,” the authors say. “The softness in mortgage lending is not due to tight standards but to reduced affordability, loan put-back risk, and slow income growth for most households.”

AEI’s Mortgage Risk Index measures the safety of mortgage lending in the United States. It uses the default experience of loans originated in 2007 as a benchmark to quantify how new mortgage loans would perform if they were hit with a market collapse on par with the recent crisis.

The index classifies loans as low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk on a monthly basis at national, regional, and local levels. The national index, the NMRI, covers approximately 75% of all new mortgages and nearly all government-issued mortgages.

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