Lending standards still tight as lenders navigate gradual market recovery

by Candyd Mendoza10 Jul 2020

Available mortgage credit decreased again in June as investors continued to hold back from purchasing certain loans amid economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

MBA's Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) dwindled by 3.3% to 125 in June, indicating a tightening in lending standards. The baseline of the index was set to 100 in March 2012.

Investors' unwillingness to buy jumbo and non-QM loans drove the downturn last month, according to Joel Kan, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting at MBA.

"Mortgage credit supply dropped again in June, as investors further reduced their willingness to purchase jumbo loans and those with lower credit scores. Lenders are navigating a gradual economic and housing market recovery that is still facing headwinds from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," he said. "The overall credit availability index decreased 3.3% to its lowest level since April 2014, with all of the sub-indexes falling to lows not seen since 2014-2015."

The MCAI for conventional loans fell 4.1%, while the government MCAI dropped by 2.8%. Of the component indices of the Conventional MCAI, the Jumbo MCAI was down by 7.3%, and the conforming MCAI was 1% lower than the previous month.

"Credit supply has fallen over 30% since February – before the pandemic – with an 18% decrease in government loan availability, and a 57% drop in jumbo loan availability," Kan said.