Based on a new Mortgage Credit Availability Index from the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage credit availability increased in February 2019.
The MCAI rose 0.6 percent to 180.1 in February. 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 (1.1 percent), while the Government MCAI increased slightly (0.1 percent). Of the component indices of the Conventional MCAI, the Jumbo MCAI increased by 2.2 percent while the Conforming MCAI decreased by 0.2 percent.
"Credit availability increased in February as a result of new jumbo offerings brought to the market, both for agency jumbo and non-agency jumbo programs," said Mike Fratantoni, MBA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. "We also saw some expansion in credit for borrowers with lower credit scores and higher LTVs, although credit availability for government programs remains tighter following the scaling back of VA refinance programs."
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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