According to the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association analysis of data from ICE Mortgage Technology, U.S. mortgage credit availability decreased in January 2023.
The MCAI fell by 0.1 percent to 103.2 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 decreased 0.3 percent, while the Government MCAI remained unchanged. Of the component indices of the Conventional MCAI, the Jumbo MCAI decreased by 0.4 percent, and the Conforming MCAI remained unchanged.
"Mortgage credit availability was essentially unchanged in January and remained close to its lowest level since 2013," said Joel Kan, MBA's Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. "Similar to December 2022, the availability of credit has been driven lower by declining originations and shrinking industry capacity as lenders have streamlined their operations to cope with lower volumes. Additionally, as mortgage rates declined over the past month, the share of adjustable-rate mortgages has fallen - consistent with a slight pullback in ARM offerings in this month's results. However, there has been a revival in mortgage application activity over the past month and our forecast is for rates to continue to decline and housing activity - including home sales and new home construction - to gradually pick up as we approach the spring homebuying season. These developments could potentially change the credit availability landscape in the months ahead."