Although getting a mortgage loan is still difficult, it got slightly easier at the end of 2015, according to The Housing Finance Policy Center’s latest credit availability index.

After a year of declines, mortgage credit availability increased by 5.6% during the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the report. Despite that, lenders could still afford to risk more. While still remaining in the cautious standards of 2001 to 2003, lenders could take twice the default risk that they are taking now.

This chart shows the default risk taken by lenders since 1998:

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Risk in Mortgage Market

(Source: CoreLogic)

Today, the easiest way to get a loan is through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That being said, both government channel and portfolio and private-label securities channels are still at or near record tightness.

The HCAI measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default, or go unpaid more than 90 days past the due date. A lower HCAI shows that lenders are unwilling to accept defaults, and therefore making it harder to get a loan by imposing tighter lending standards, whereas a higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to take more risks, making it easier to get a loan.

The HCAI is updated quarterly and covers mortgage market since the first quarter of 1998.