Why are lenders tightening their credit standards?
More lenders reduced their credit offerings in November after three consecutive months of increased credit availability, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
MBA said its Mortgage Credit Availability Index slipped 0.6% to 124.9 in November, indicating that lending standards tightened during the period. The index was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012.
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“Credit availability in November was down slightly, even as the housing market continues to thrive amidst the improving job market,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting. “However, the picture was different depending on the market segment. An increase in conventional credit availability was offset by a decrease in government credit, as lenders reduced their offerings of government loan programs with lower credit scores, as well as those for investment homes.”
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The conventional index rose by 1.9%, while the government index fell by 2.7%. Breaking down the conventional MCAI by its components, the jumbo MCAI increased by 3%, and the conforming MCAI edged up by 0.2%.
“Credit supply for jumbo loans increased for the fifth straight month. Lenders scaled back on jumbo supply at the onset of the pandemic, and even with the recent growth in credit availability, the jumbo index remains more than 40% below February 2020 levels,” Kan said. “As home-price growth continues, and mortgage rates creep higher, increased credit availability is needed for qualified borrowers looking to purchase a home – especially for first-time homebuyers, who rely heavily on government mortgage programs.”