For May, mortgage credit availability experienced an increase, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association  (MBA) Mortgage Credit Availability Index  (MCAI), a report that analyzes data from Ellie Mae 's AllRegs Market Clarity  business information tool.
According to the index, the MCAI increased 0.5 percent to 122.6 in May. An increase in the MCAI indicates credit loosening, and a decline indicates that lending standards are tightening. In March 2012, the index was benchmarked to 100. Of the four component indices, the conventional MCAI and conforming MCAI both saw the greatest easing of credit with an increase of 1.2 percent over the month. The government MCAI increased by 0.1 percent, and the jumbo MCAI decreased by 0.1 percent.
"Credit availability eased somewhat in May, largely as a result of increased availability of cash out refinance loans and greater availability of FHA 203K home improvement loans," said Mike Fratantoni, MBA's chief economist.
The MBA reports on five total measures of credit availability as part of the monthly MCAI release including the total mortgage credit availability index, the conventional mortgage credit availability index, the government mortgage credit availability index, the conforming mortgage credit availability index, and the jumbo mortgage credit availability index.
“The Conventional, Government, Conforming, and Jumbo MCAIs are constructed using the same methodology as the Total MCAI and are designed to show relative credit risk/availability for their respective index,” the MBA said. “The primary difference between the total MCAI and the Component Indices are the population of loan programs which they examine.”
The government MCAI examines all FHA, VA, and USDA loan programs, while the conventional MCAI examines non-government loan programs, the index says. The jumbo MCAI examines everything flagged as "jumbo" while the conforming MCAI examines loan programs that fall under conforming loan limits.
Click here to view the complete MBA Mortgage Credit Availability Index.