According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, U.S. mortgage credit availability increased in January 2019, based on their latest Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI).
The MCAI rose 2.3 percent to 179.0 in January. 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. The Conventional MCAI increased (4.9 percent), while the Government MCAI was unchanged. Of the component indices of the Conventional MCAI, the Conforming MCAI increased by 7.3 percent, and the Jumbo MCAI increased by 3.0 percent.
"There was an increase in the supply of mortgage credit in January, which was a reversal from the December pullback that was caused by the end of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and a reduction in jumbo offerings," said Joel Kan, MBA's Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. "Last month, investors and lenders added more programs to cater to lower credit score borrowers, in addition to new relief refinance programs. These relief refinance programs are not a direct replacement for HARP, but do serve a similar purpose to assist borrowers who may have run into financial challenges."
According to HUD, the U.S. national vacancy rate in the first quarter 2019 was 7.0 percent for rental housing and 1.4 percent for homeowner housing. The rental vacancy rate of 7.0 percent was virtually unchanged from the rate in the first quarter 2018.
According to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department, total housing starts fell 0.3 percent in March 2019 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.14 million units from a downwardly revised reading in February 2019.
According to Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, U.S. mortgage rates rose modestly this 2nd week of April 2019, with the 30-year fixed-rate averaging 4.12 percent. Rates moved up slightly this week while mortgage applications decreased following last week's jump in rates.
A total of 161,875 U.S. properties with a foreclosure filing during the first quarter of 2019, down 23 percent from the previous quarter and down 15 percent from a year ago to the lowest level since Q1 2008.
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