According to the Mortgage Bankers Association's Mortgage Credit Availability Index ('MCAI'), U.S. mortgage credit availability increased in December 2016.
The MCAI increased 0.6 percent to 175.2 in December. A decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening, while increases in the index are indicative of loosening credit. The index was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012. Of the four component indices, the Jumbo MCAI saw the greatest increase in availability over the month (up 1.3 percent), followed by the Conventional MCAI (up 0.7 percent), the Government MCAI (up 0.6 percent), and the Conforming MCAI (up 0.04 percent).
"Credit availability was up for the fourth consecutive month in December driven by jumbo loan programs as well as loan programs for borrowers with lower credit scores and low down payments," said Lynn Fisher, MBA's Vice President of Research and Economics.
According to Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the first week of January 2018, the average mortgage rate dipped in the U.S. Treasury yields fell from a week ago, helping to drive mortgage rates down to start the year.